Capt. Paul Esposito

Commanding Officer, Auburn/Tuskegee Consortium Navy ROTC
Professor of Naval Science

Capt. Paul Esposito is a native of Old Bethpage, New York. He holds a bachelor's degree in marketing and management from Siena College in Albany, New York. He was commissioned through Aviation Officer Candidate School in Pensacola, Florida in 1987 and was designated a Naval Aviator in 1988. Esposito has served in a number of roles on several different vessels in operations all over the world. As part of the Navy's Personnel Exchange Program, Esposito was trained with the Canadian Forces' Maritime Helicopter Squadron 423 in Halifax, Nova Scotia. After a deployment to Somalia for Operation Deliverance, he earned a Canadian Forces medal. As commanding officer of Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron 5 (HS-5), Esposito led an eight-month deployment aboard the USS Eisenhower in support of Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom. At the completion of his command tour, Esposito reported to the Industrial College of the Armed Forces, earning a master's degree in national resource strategy. He went on to serve as the executive secretariat for the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense before assuming command of Helicopter Sea Combat Wing Atlantic, the largest aviation wing in the U.S. Navy. In July 2013, Esposito became commanding officer of the Auburn/Tuskegee Consortium Navy ROTC and professor of naval science at Auburn. The consortium means each school has separate staffs, but share an executive officer and commanding officer.

During his career, Esposito has accumulated more than 4,700 flight hours and his personal decorations include the Legion of Merit, Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Meritorious Service Medal, two Air Medals, four Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medals, two Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medals, and various international campaign, unit and sea service related awards.

1. What prompted you to join the U.S. Navy in the first place?

I am the son of a U.S. Navy veteran of World War II and the Korean War. My father was an enlisted man who served on several types of Navy vessels and he would occasionally share stories about his life at sea. However, his time on the aircraft carrier, USS Rendova, captivated my imagination and drove my passion for all things naval aviation. Growing up we would spend time at air shows and visiting the naval vessels that came into New York Harbor. While my whole family attended these occasions, it seemed to really resonate with me. I knew I wanted to be part of that experience.

2. Being in command of the Helicopter Sea Combat Wing Atlantic, the largest aviation wing in the U.S. Navy, sounds like a huge responsibility. What were your responsibilities as commander? And why did you leave it all to come to Auburn?

It was a tremendous privilege to command the Wing, where our mission was to ensure aircrew and aircraft were properly trained, equipped and ready to deploy afloat and ashore in support of worldwide combat operations. HSCWL is the largest and most diverse type wing in the Navy, with over 4,000 sailors, 138 aircraft and four different model/series helicopters. Rotary Wing is the backbone of Naval Aviation where they provide a multitude of capability to the fleet. From maritime and combat search and rescue, to logistics support, anti-submarine and airborne mine counter measures, battle group defense, as well as humanitarian relief; they do it all. And having ready crews, full up systems, trained maintainers and support staff is a tremendous endeavor. Luckily, I was blessed with a great staff, trusted leaders at every level, and was able to meet the demands of high tempo operations.

It wasn't without challenge as it's a very dangerous world but every minute of every day, somewhere Naval Rotary Wing aircraft are operating. Unfortunately, as with all good things, your time in charge is limited and I turned over command of the Wing after my scheduled 18-month tour was complete. I was offered the choice of a third tour in the Pentagon or the Auburn/Tuskegee Consortium. As the saying goes, "I chose wisely."

3. What do you like most about your position as CO of Auburn Navy ROTC and professor of naval science?

I like to think that with 29 years out in the fleet I have a pretty good idea what it takes to lead the men and women of the United States Navy and Marine Corps. Being here at Auburn NROTC affords me the opportunity to help prepare, shape and mentor the next generation of Navy and Marine Corps leaders. Being out and actively participating with the Midshipman on campus is one of the best (and most tiring) parts of the job. Add to that the fact I am part of the Auburn Family, and it's a pretty awesome gig.

4. What is your most memorable Auburn experience?

Well, not to sound like a combination of "Leave it to Beaver" and Uncle Sam, but for me, standing on the sideline at Jordan-Hare during the singing of God Bless America followed by the National Anthem before a home football game. Between the band and the crowd singing, it is a tremendous experience.

5. Our nation marks Memorial Day this week, a day for remembering those who died while serving in our armed forces. As a veteran who served in at least seven operations in his career, what does the day mean to you?

Memorial Day is an opportunity for me to take a moment to recognize and thank my brothers and sisters who have served, sacrificed and continue to wear the cloth of our nation. No matter where I or my family is we take the time to remember these individuals who provided the opportunities we have today. It's also a time for everyone to remember the unsung heroes of our military – the military family members. Spouses, loved ones and children of our service members deserve as much thanks and support as do our warriors themselves. It's their sacrifice that makes it all work. Being part of a military family isn't easy; it's as hard as you can imagine but equally as rewarding. Keep that special group in mind when you can.

Last Updated: May 22, 2015

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