Honoring Those Who Have Served Our Country: Bob Lambert, Managing Director – Allegis Partners
What motivated you to join the military?
The simple answer: Service… duty, honor, country. Why? I was raised in Coronado, California, surrounded by the U.S. Navy. During the Vietnam War, a disproportional number of Naval Aviator POW’s families lived in Coronado. Coronado is also the home of the U.S. Navy SEALS, so growing up we were immersed in this life. I was attracted to the challenge, the adventure —“join the Navy, see the world…” totally bought in.
When I joined the Navy in the summer of 1974, the Vietnam War was winding down and Watergate was at its peak. I wanted to go to the U.S. Naval Academy but did not have the GPA or test scores to earn a Congressional appointment. Later, while attending Arizona State, I looked into other programs that could lead to a Navy career. The Navy had a program called,“Aviation Reserve Officer Candidate School.” I applied, was accepted, and entered a very challenging and competitive program that was very accurately portrayed in the movie “An Officer and a Gentleman.” It was intense with the objective of “washing out” 90% of the class. You did not “make it;” you survived. I was commissioned as an officer (an Ensign) and entered flight training in Pensacola, Florida, in 1975.
What has been/was your primary job after training (MOS, AFSC, rating)?
I was an aircraft carrier-based Aviator flying the A6E Intruder attack aircraft. In addition to flight responsibilities, we also had extensive management roles; I was a Division Officer, a Strike Leader, the Carrier Task Force Mine Warfare Officer, and Nuclear Weapons Training Officer, among other roles.
Where did you serve the majority of time in service? What were your best and worst moves?
I was assigned to Attack Squadron 34 attached to Carrier Air Wing One embarked on the USS John F Kennedy in the US Sixth Fleet. We spent most of our time in the Eastern Mediterranean. Our US home port was Naval Air Station Oceana in Virginia Beach and Sixth Fleet’s homeport of Naples, Italy.
What rank and medals or citations are you most honored to have earned? Why?
When I left the Navy, I was an 0-3 (a Lieutenant). The Navy is very good about recognition.Our squadron, air wing, and ship were highly decorated; everyone contributed. It was all about the team, aircrew, shipmates, etc.
Can you talk about special time, person, or event you experienced in the military?
The entire eight years was special; I was very grateful for every experience. Flying tactical jets on and off an aircraft carrier is an inherently dangerous profession and one deeply steeped in tradition—I was surrounded by this 24/7. The hardest part were the long periods at sea and separation from family and loved ones. That, and night carrier landings.
What was the best and worst 'military' food you were served, and why?
I had no complaints about Navy food. However, everything had a special name: greasy hamburgers were “sliders,” brussel sprouts were “squirrel brains,” etc.
How did (does) your military experience affect your life today?
Deeply. The Navy taught me that those closest to the work know it best and to assume complete ownership of the team and the mission. It has been said that the flight deck of an aircraft carrier during launch and recovery operations is the most dangerous workplace in the world. “Attention to detail” is a phrase you learn quickly—it is the little things that can kill you. ”Flawless execution of the basics” was another critical concept and it’s corollary, “…this is a no fail task.” Failure can mean a violent, sudden, kinetic death – this happened far too often.
What is one thing that you brought from your military experience to Allegis?
One thing? Mission. It was all about ownership and accountability. No excuses; get it done right the first time.
If you could give one piece of advice to a transitioning veteran, what would it be?
The same advice I received from my command Master Chief Petty Officer: Understand what you excelled at in the Navy and why and hang on to that because it will translate into the private sector – do not lose your competitive edge.