New Franken native, Luxemburg-Casco alumni to take command of U.S. Navy air squadron
SAN DIEGO – When Jamie Delcore graduated from Luxemburg-Casco High School, he never imagined he'd someday join the U.S. Navy, much less find himself commanding a squadron of three detachments and about 100 people.
"No, I never planned on joining the military," Delcore said with a laugh. "But it just worked out that way."
Formerly of New Franken, Delcore will become commanding officer of the Navy's Tactical Air Control Squadron 11 with a change of command ceremony June 3.
"I’m grateful to have been selected to take command," said Delcore. "Taking command has been my goal since earning my wings and is one of the greatest honors a naval officer can have throughout their career."
The squadron is based in San Diego but deploys around the world to provide planning, control and integration of naval air operations in support of amphibious and disaster relief operations, training and transits. Delcore said that can range from guiding pilots engaged in dogfights, to conducting air traffic control in the airspace around its ships, to setting up a temporary landing strip if amphibious forces were to capture a beach, for example.
"Basically, we're centralized planning and control of all operations for the amphibious navy," Delcore said.
The change of command ceremony putting Delcore in charge of the squadron is a Navy tradition conducted before the assembled company of the command, transferring total responsibility, authority and accountability from one commander to the next.
Delcore has been an executive officer in the squadron for the past year. He said the move is part of the Navy's "fleet up model" which has the executive officer serve for 12 to 18 months with a particular command, then be named commanding officer of the same command. In his time serving under the commanding officer, Delcore was in charge of a number of programs while learning about the unit and its roles.
"The beauty of doing that is we're exposed to everything, we learn about everyone in the squadron, we learn about being commanding officer for a year," Delcore said.
Because the executive officer is involved is so much of the squadron's operations, Delcore said becoming commanding officer, while still important, isn't really a promotion from that rank. The main difference is that as of June 3, everything will be his responsibility.
"The weight on my shoulders is going to get much heavier," Delcore said. "I just want to make sure to take care of everyone the way their parents would want. Their mothers, fathers, spouses, sisters, brothers are relying on me to provide everything to make sure they're safe."
It's the next rung on a career ladder that might be a bit unusual for a naval officer. Delcore didn't attend the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, or enroll in a Navy ROTC program after graduating from Luxemburg-Casco in 1991. He enlisted at age 22, trying to find direction in his life and career after studying for a couple years at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.
"The money for college was pretty tempting," Delcore said, chuckling, about enlisting.
Delcore had shown an interest in languages, so the Navy sent him to the Department of Defense's Defense Language Institute in Monterey, California, after which he served as a Russian translator for five years, including a stretch in Spain. He went on to earn degrees from the University of Florida and University of Maryland, was commissioned as an officer, then attended the Belgian Royal Military Academy in Brussels, learning French and earning a master's in political and military science in 2012.
The Belgian academy might seem an unusual place for an American naval officer to continue their education, but Delcore said his family has deep ties to Brussels and the surrounding area. He said the coursework and fellow students turned out to be broad in scope, with a brain surgeon among the guest lecturers.
"The Navy will send officers to one of several academies," Delcore said. "It is a standard to allow us to go get our master's degrees. The Naval War College (in Newport, Rhode Island) is where they usually go. I just happened to find a different program to go through."
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Delcore then served as a department head for a squadron based in Hawaii before serving in the Pentagon for two and a half years, where the Navy changed his career path from linguistics to aviation. He's not a pilot, but he's learned everything needed to run an air squadron.
"I'm still an aviator, but (as) a navigator," Delcore said. "My entire career is dedicated to flying in some form or another. It's supporting aviation operations while not being in the cockpit."
Delcore said he believes it's to his benefit that he worked his way into his new rank over the 24 years of his time in the Navy.
"All I see are positives," Delcore said. "Academic learning is a wonderful instrument, but (there's) the ability to understand where people come from, what they had to deal with when I was in their shoes. I think I have a significant amount of 'street cred.' They usually feel like I'm a better person to be able to communicate with."
Plus, his career path can serve as a model for other enlistees, he said.
"I worked my butt off (to get to this point)," Delcore said. "And I preach to every single person that they can accomplish that. They just have to want it."
Delcore also gave credit for working his way up the naval ladder to his parents, Ken and Pat Delcore, and the work he performed with them on their dairy farm in New Franken.
"I grew up on a dairy farm, and we have a different work ethic," Delcore said. "My mother and father worked seven days a week. That made it much easier when I had to stomach myself when I needed to work."
After his command is over, Delcore would like to remain stationed in San Diego, where he has a home with his wife and two children who are still in school (two other children are out of the house). Wherever he ends up, he said he plans to continue serving proudly.
"I just hope to continue to keep doing good things in the Navy," he said.
Contact Christopher Clough at 920-741-7952, 920-562-8900 or [email protected].
This article originally appeared on Green Bay Press-Gazette: New Franken native, Luxemburg-Casco alumni to take command of U.S. Navy air squadron