I chose to interview LCDR Christopher G. Landon, USN because I knew that he was in the Navy and I thought that he would have an interesting story to tell. I came up with my questions so that I could learn more about LCDR Landon and share his story.
Q. Could you provide a brief description of your military background and education?
A. I enlisted in the U.S. Marines in 1994. After completing boot camp at Parris Island, S.C., I trained and served with air defense units in 29 Palms, CA. After designation as Marine of the Year for 3rd Marine Air Wing in 1995, I was offered an appointment to the U.S. Naval Academy. I attended USNA from the summer of 1996 until my graduation in 2000 and received a B.S. degree in Quantitative Economics. I was then commissioned an Ensign in the U.S. Navy and recruited to work with Naval Intelligence. I trained in counter-intelligence and counter-terrorism and deployed the afternoon of September 11, 2001 in reaction to the downing of the World Trade Center. I participated in multiple deployments to the Middle and Far East over the next two years conducting high-value targeting operations against senior Taliban and Al-Qaeda members.
I attended the Naval Postgraduate School from the summer of 2003 through 2005 and received an M.S. in Operations Research and published my thesis on the study of Social Network Interdiction Targeting. Following graduate school, I was appointed as a special advisor on counter-terrorism to the Director of Naval Intelligence. I served in multiple roles over the next three years at the Pentagon and overseas focusing on the disruption of terrorism operations emanating from the Middle East. I left active duty in 2008 after several injuries sustained while deployed. I continue to serve in the Navy Reserves today teaching in the Systems Engineering Department at the U.S Naval Academy every Fall.
Q. What was your most difficult time during your education?
A. The most difficult time during my education was my freshman/Plebe year at USNA. Because I’d been out of high school for several years before attending USNA, I lost a lot of skills and study habits needed to perform well academically. I was also playing rugby and football which further drained my study time. While I didn’t fail any courses that year, it did put me behind where I wanted to be in my GPA and forced me to find ways to study smarter and to better manage my time.
Q. What was your most difficult time during your military service?
A. The most difficult time during my military service came during the summer of 2002. I had deployed several times by then, but the nature and pace of our operations and movements were becoming far more stressful and dangerous. For a period that summer of roughly sixty days I never slept more than 3 hours per day. We were constantly either pursuing or in contact with enemy and terrorist combatants. The only thing that made it bearable was the team I was with. We were all in it together.
Q. How did these times affect your life today?
A. These difficult times in my life have had a great impact on me. I find that I am very proactive with how I manage my time, my effort and my stress. I put my time into the things that bring the most happiness to both myself and the people around me. Not very much bothers me these days. It’s a pretty simple philosophy, but things just aren’t that bad when you’re not being shot at.
Q. Why did you join the military?
A. I joined the military because I didn’t have a lot of direction or discipline when I finished high school. I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life and saw the Marines as a way of finding out both what I was made of and what I might want to become. While I liked the idea of serving my country, the U.S. was not involved in any major armed conflicts at that time, so there wasn’t the imminent risk or likelihood of being in harm’s way. I have a lot of respect for the young men and women volunteering for service today.
Q. Would you serve again?
A. I will absolutely continue to serve for as long as they will have me. It has been one of the greatest honors of my life and has shaped the person I am today.
Go Navy, Beat Army!
Jackson Epperly is a sixth grader at Central Middle School in Anne Arundel County.