U.S. Navy 1972–1994
Two years into college, with a sense of patriotism and a longing to travel, Gary Donato decided to join the Navy – a decision that would bring him up the ranks from Nuclear Machinist Mate to Lieutenant in a twenty-two year career in the Submarine Force, spanning the Vietnam era through the Cold War. He recounts “war games” played with the Russians and speaks of the difficulties of losing shipmates to accidents and suicide. Under the guidance of a tough-minded Master Chief, Gary began as a machinist mate and through his career was able to take advantage of opportunities to further his education. This enabled him to take on leadership roles while on duty on the USS Sturgeon (SSN637), Pargo (SSN650), Rayburn (SSBN635), Russell (SSN687), Kamehameha (SSBN642), and Nevada (SSBN733).