Photo 1: Captain Chad Worthley's wife, Betsy, attaches the Command Shore Pin to her husband's uniform at a ceremony held on base at the Point Mugu Naval Air Base in Ventura County, California. The hardware on his chest includes a bronze star, Meritorious Service Medals, Joint Service Achievement Medals, two standard naval defense ribbons, and his rifle and pistol expert medal. (Submitted photo)
Photo 2: Captain Chad Worthley of Truman, second from right, was installed as Commander of NAVSOC at a Change of Command ceremony at Point Mugu, California. (Submitted photo)
BY KATE CROWLEY ROSENBERG
Truman High School graduate Captain Chad Worthley has been installed as Commander of the Naval Satellite Operations Center (NAVSOC) in California. Worthley, one of four sons of Kieth Worthley of Truman, is a highly decorated 23-year Navy veteran of multiple campaigns.
"It is a major command leadership tour, where I am in charge of all Navy satellite operations and roughly $5 Billion in equipment and facilities," Capt. Worthley said.
"Basically, we command and control all 14 of the Naval satellites," he said. "We do all of the operations for all of the control—all the updates. We have three ground sites across the planet with antennas that we communicate through these satellites for. They are basically all communications satellites for providing communication across the entire globe."
Those satellites are used for communications for the US Military, according to Capt. Worthley. "Probably our biggest user of these satellites is the US Army," he said, "but we control the actual satellites. So if they need to move one—say a war heats up somewhere else... we might move a couple over. That'll take a month or two months to do, because we have to do certain burns on them and let them drift over there."
The NAVSOC runs 40 to 50 operations per day, each lasting from a few seconds to several hours, the commander said. "It might be uploading an ephemerous table for other nearby satellites—the data files for what's close to them. Even some strange things like sun and earth and moon tables. We have to use the sun and moon data so the satellite doesn't get fooled. For instance, if the sun is behind the earth and the earth looks like it has a little bulge coming out of it when its actually the sun and the satellite—some of them are 25 years plus years old—can get fooled by that and think the earth is a little bit bigger than it is and end up pointing in the wrong direction."
Capt. Worthley has had numerous commands, and has the hardware on his dress uniform to prove it.
"You have a lot of weight hanging off that left shoulder," said Kieth to his son during a joint phone interview with the Tribune. "One of those looks suspiciously like a Bronze Star."
"I got that from my tour in Afghanistan," the captain answered.
"Most of the top row would be from leadership stuff, other than the bronze star which is basically for leadership role in a combat operations." Captain Worthley said.
"The next one is what's called a Defense Meritorious Service Medal," he said. "I actually have two of those. They are the equivalent of bronze star but not in combat operations. I got both from the NRO—leading teams at the National Reconnaissance Office. And those start with the word Defense because they're a joint tour meaning they cross all services and components. That was working with the Airforce, CIA. It's a cross. It's outside of Navy.
"The next one is the same thing. It's called a Meritorious Service medal—it gets rid of the word defense in front because it's just in your own service," Capt. Worthley said. "That was for me working down at the Pacific Fleet and everything I did down there for them in Hawaii. That was all Navy specific.
"And then the next (row of medals) would be all the Air medals I've got," he said. Captain Worthley spent his first 12 years with the Navy as a pilot flying the F/A-18 Hornet deploying on aircraft carriers. "One has a number three on it and each number signifies 20 aerial combat operations."
"The other ones are as you grow up in rank, there is an equivalent reward. Each step, of the way Navy Commendation medal, there's a few of those, a joint service achievement medal from deploying down to Pensacola during the Katrina hurricane episode. I was basically flying airplanes and helicopters going in—picking people up off of rooftops."
The next row of medals is what the captain described as unit medals which are given out to all members present during a mission whether they directly participated or not.
"One was kind of unique. I was on the Abraham Lincoln when a plane went down off the coast of California back in '99 or 2000. It's actually a Coast Guard ribbon, because the carrier went over there and was used as a platform for all the helicopters going to and from trying to get survivors," he said. "I happened to be on the ship."
He also has a couple of Standard Defense Service ribbons. Both from the Kuwait and Afghan campaigns. He actively participated in the Afghanistan campaigns, but was in the US Naval Academy in Annapolis, MD during the Kuwait campaign.
Worthley served as a Captain with the US Navy Pacific Fleet Headquarters from 2015 until this year. He spent three years with the Operations Integration Office, was Commanding Officer of the Provincial Reconstruction Team in Paktika Province, Afghanistan, and two and a half years as EUCOM and AFRICOM Branch Chief with the SPAWAR Space Field Activity. He received both his Bachelors and Masters degrees in Computer Science, the latter from the University of Baltimore.
"I think he was officer material the day he was born," said Kieth Worthley, who explained that Chad used to pay his brothers Wayne, Todd and Marc, to do his chores so he could go fishing. Marc spent six years in the Navy and is now in the Naval Reserve. Todd, also a veteran of the Navy and a current hard line telephone electronics professional, learned his electronics skills in the Navy. Wayne did not serve. "He went to the Peace Corps," Kieth said.
"Mom and Dad raised us right," said Capt. Worthley, who noticed it most when he entered the military.
"I've lived in about 11 different places and a lot of different walks of life... The people, the morals, the values of southern Minnesota... Their views on things closely aligns with what the Navy wants."
Capt. Worthley said there are three things he can certainly attribute to his Truman upbringing:
"First: A correctly oriented moral compass (generally speaking, the community is made up of great people. Their morals and values match that of what is expected of people in public service/military/etc.) I knew right and wrong from a very early age; there were no gray areas when it came to doing the right thing. This made for a very seamless transition into my Naval Officer career.
"Second: Hard work. Obviously we were expected to do a lot of work around the farm while growing up. Academically, the Naval Academy was a large leap from THS, but the work ethic was instilled in me.
"Third: Family/mentors. Obviously my parents were great role models, but in the extended sense of ‘family’ I had plenty of other supporting actors being from a small, close-knit community. Teachers/coaches (because they all knew you…), church support, Scouts, relatives/grandparents (pretty much all of mine lived within an hour drive…) I thought this was all ‘normal’ growing up, but after living in 11 different places now, I see that I was extremely blessed to have all of this…..certainly not everyone does."
Kieth credits the Truman High School superintendent his older sons had for their strength of character.
"Dr. Newkirk was a really an influence on them—a good influence. I've always thought the shaping of what they went on to do—their dedication to things—a lot of that came from him," Kieth said.
Kieth also believes the Navy gave his sons a great education; one he and his late wife Karen (Stump) couldn't afford at the time.
The next Worthley generation is worth following, as well.
Capt. Worthley has four children; his oldest son Tyler is pursuing aerospace engineering at MIT beginning this month. "Yeah, he's pretty sharp."
Those kind of apples never fall far from the tree.
Capt. Worthley's tour is expected to extend to mid 2021. After that, he hopes to take perhaps one more tour before retiring from the Navy.
"Why quit when you are still enjoying what you do?" Capt. Worthley said.
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