Get A Ticket To The Dance: A Sailor’s Desire For Higher Education Keeps Him Advancing


After graduating from a technical high school, Russ Carfagno began his working career as a mechanic in the air conditioning industry. He took night classes to further his education. Eventually, he came to the realization that he wanted more: more training, more money and more responsibility. After decades of listening to his father’s sea stories about his life as a shore-based hospital corpsman, Carfagno knew three things: He wanted a rate in electronics, he wanted to do something different and he wanted to go to sea. A Navy recruiter asked him how he felt about being on submarines and after very little thought, Carfagno never looked back. He served six years as a sonar technician submarines.

As an STS, Carfagno gained unparalleled technical experience. “For my first year in the Navy after boot camp, I went to school every day for eight hours a day with top technical instructors,” he said. “You don’t get training like that outside the military.” Thanks to the nature of the submarine community, Carfagno developed an eye for detail and sharp situational analysis skills. But most importantly, he developed camaraderie. “On a sub, everyone has a role to play that works toward the greater mission of the boat,” Carfagno said. Those Navy tenets served him well as he transitioned into the civilian electronics field, first as a field technician and now as an executive leader at Johnson Controls in York, Pennsylvania.

Russ CarfagnoCourtesy of Russ Carfagno

Carfagno always knew he didn’t want to serve in the Navy long term. “When I left the Navy,” he said, “I bought my first suit, spiffed up my resume and walked into a large electronics firm in South Jersey, right outside Philadelphia. I asked to speak to the HR manager. No interview. No appointment.” Though he was initially turned away, the firm kept his resume. Carfagno was later asked to return for an official interview, where he was hired on the spot. Over the years, he moved up the ranks in various organizations, shifting from the technical arena to the leadership circle.

“The unique thing, among many, that military service gives you is the ability to analyze a situation and approach it tactfully,” he said. It’s a skill that’s helped him tremendously as he took on more corporate positions. “I had more responsibility in my 20s as a young STS than I have at other points in my personal and professional life,” he said. He attributes his gains in roles and responsibility to a continuous pursuit of higher education.

When Carfagno began working as a civilian, he enrolled in night classes and pursued his associate’s degree in electronic engineering. “You could be the best dancer out there,” he said. “But without a ticket to the dance, you can’t even get in to show off your moves.” In the 20 years since leaving the Navy, Carfagno earned both his undergraduate and graduate degrees; he is currently a Ph.D. candidate just months away from defending his dissertation.

Large technical companies like Johnson Controls are actively searching for military veterans with training in electronics and similar fields that the military heavily relies upon. However, in many positions, an undergraduate degree is the key to getting in the door in today’s industry. “The skills and training we gain is incomparable to what you can get as a civilian,” Carfagno said. “Pair it with a bachelor’s degree or higher and you’ve secured your ticket to the dance.”

To learn more about Johnson Controls and job opportunities, visit their careers page.

Courtesy of Russ Carfagno
(Photo: CNN/screenshot)

NAVAL BASE SAN DIEGO — A Navy SEAL sniper on Wednesday contradicted earlier testimony of fellow SEALs who claimed he had fired warning shots to scare away civilian non-combatants before Chief Eddie Gallagher shot them during their 2017 deployment to Mosul, and said he would not want to deploy again with one of the prosecution's star witnesses.

Special Operator 1st Class Joshua Graffam originally invoked his Fifth Amendment privilege before Navy Judge Capt. Aaron Rugh gave him immunity in order to compel his testimony.

Graffam testified that Gallagher was essentially justified in the shooting of a man he is accused of unlawfully targeting, stating that "based off everything i had seen so far ... in my opinion, they were two shitheads moving from one side of the road to the other."

Spotting for Gallagher in the tower that day, Graffam said, he called out the target to him and he fired. He said the man was hit in the upper torso and ran away.

Graffam, who joined the Navy in 2010 and has been assigned to SEAL Team 7's Alpha Platoon since September 2015, deployed alongside Gallagher to Mosul in 2017, occasionally acting as a spotter for Gallagher when the SEALs were tasked with providing sniper support for Iraqi forces from two towers east of the Tigris River.

Another SEAL, Special Warfare Operator 1st Class Dalton Tolbert, had previously testified under direct examination by prosecutors that, while stationed in the south tower of a bombed-out building in June 2017, he had observed Gallagher shoot and kill an elderly civilian.

"He ran north to south across the road," Tolbert testified on Friday. "That's when I saw the red mark on his back and I saw him fall for the first time. Blood started to pool and I knew it was a square hit in the back." Over the radio, he said he heard Gallagher tell the other snipers, "you guys missed him but I got him."

Former SO1 Dylan Dille, who was also in the south tower that day, testified last week that he watched an old man die from a sniper shot on Father's Day. He said the date stuck out in his mind because he thought the man was probably a father.

Later that day, after the mission, Graffam said he spoke with Dille about the shooting and they disagreed about the circumstances. Dille, he said, believed the man was a noncombatant.

"I, on the other hand, was confident that the right shot was taken," Graffam said, although he said later under cross-examination that the man was unarmed. Dille previously testified that the SEALs were authorized to shoot unarmed personnel if they first received signals intelligence or other targeting information.

Photo: Paul Szoldra/Task & Purpose

Graffam described the man as a male between 40 and 50 years old wearing black clothing, giving him the impression of an ISIS fighter who was moving in a "tactical" manner. He testified that he did not see anything like Dille had described.

Graffam further testified that he didn't see Gallagher take any shots that he shouldn't have on that day or any other.

Although Graffam said he did not hear of allegations that Gallagher had stabbed a wounded ISIS fighter on deployment, he testified that he started to hear rumblings in early 2018. Chief Craig Miller, he said, asked him at one point whether he would "cooperate" with others in reporting him.

When asked whether he would like to serve with Miller again in a SEAL platoon, Graffam said, "I don't feel as confident about it." A member of the jury later asked him why he'd feel uncomfortable deploying with Miller and he responded, "I just wouldn't."

Graffam said he would serve with Gallagher again if given the chance.

Under cross examination by prosecutors, Graffam said he couldn't say whether there were warning shots fired that day, though Dille and Tolbert both said happened. "There were multiple shots throughout the day," Graffam said.

Prosecutors also asked him about his previous statements to NCIS, in which Graffam said of Miller that "he has good character" and was "a good guy." Graffam confirmed he said just that.

Defense attorney Tim Parlatore, however, said those statements were back in January and "a lot had happened since then." Parlatore said Graffam had also said at the time that Gallagher was a good leader.

"That part remains unchanged, correct?" Parlatore asked.

"Yes," Graffam said.

The defense is expected to call more witnesses in the case, which continues on Thursday.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Alexi Myrick)

The U.S. military is seeing an increase in sexually transmitted infections such as chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis in part due to dating apps, according to the Military Health System.

"There appears to be an increase in high-risk behaviors among service members; that is, having sex without a condom or having more than one sexual partner," Air Force physician Maj. Dianne Frankel said in a news release.

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Three Marines killed in a December plane crash are finally coming home.

Five Marines aboard a KC-130J Hercules and one Marine on an F/A-18 Hornet were killed when both planes went down about 200 miles off the Japanese coast.

A recent salvage operation of the KC-130J crash site recovered the remains of three of the Marines, who were later identified, Corps officials said.

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(YouTube via Air Force Times)

Editor's Note: This article by Oriana Pawlyk originally appeared on, a leading source of news for the military and veteran community.

The Air Force is investigating an airman after he posted a video on YouTube rife with homophobic slurs and insults.

A man in an Air Force uniform, identified only by the YouTube username "Baptist Dave 1611" ranted in a recent video, calling gay people "sodomites," "vermin scum," and "roaches" among other slurs, according to Air Force Times, which first reported the story Wednesday.

"The specifics of the situation are being reviewed by the airman's command team," said service spokesman Maj Nick Mercurio, confirming the incident. Mercurio did not provide any identifying details about the airman.

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Two U.S. troops were killed in Afghanistan on Wednesday, defense officials have announced.

Operation Resolute Support issued a terse news release announcing the latest casualties that did not include any information about the circumstances of their deaths.

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