John Schofield, US Navy

Interview with John Schofield, US Navy

Name: John Schofield

Military Branch & Rank: US Navy, Commander

Dates of Service: July 1996 – June 2017

Date of Interview: August 1, 2019

Interviewer: Michael D. Brown

Audio Producer: Laura Bang

Length of Interview: 74 minutes

Transcribed by: Nicholas Coscarelli

Edited and annotated by: Meg Piorko

Audio URL:


MICHAEL BROWN (INTRO): Thank you for joining us today. My name is Michael Brown, and we are here today at Villanova University recording another installment of the Voices of Villanova’s Veterans.

BROWN: Good afternoon. It is Thursday, August 1st, 2019, and today I am joined by John, a Navy veteran of Villanova, and he’s proud of both of those things. So, we will talk about that service, his experience at Villanova, and his life experience overall, and I look forward to that conversation. So, thank you for joining us today, John.

JOHN SCHOFIELD: No, thank you for having me. It’s always good to be back on campus.

BROWN: And as we get started, talk to me about when you were born and where you were born, and we’ll go from there.

SCHOFIELD: So, interesting story that has relevance to future parts of the story. I was born on April 10th, 1973, on the grounds of West Point, where the U.S. Military Academy is located. My father was an Army officer at the time. He was an O-3, an Army Captain. He was the assistant lacrosse coach and was also teaching in the economics department, if I’m not mistaken. So, I was born right there in what is still called Eisenhower Hall. Back in 1973, Eisenhower Hall was the hospital, and now, current date, Eisenhower Hall is where the Brigade of Cadets –or the Corps of Cadets, rather – that’s where they live. So, I was born on an Army base. I moved shortly after that, when my father was stationed at what’s called Scofield Barracks, which is also my last name. They didn’t name it for us. And he got out of the Army shortly after that. So, I was able to move from West Point, New York, as a young baby to Hawaii. I lived in Hawaii for about five years, and kind of lived in a bunch of places after that.

BROWN: Were you the only child?

SCHOFIELD: I was to my father, yeah. I had two stepsisters who were much, much older from a previous marriage that my mother had. So, I was essentially an only child. I didn’t really know of them very much. By the time – they were 11 and 10 years older than I was – so, by the time I was seven or eight years old, they were out of the house and going to college and gone. So, I felt like an only child. And then very shortly after that, by the time I was about 10 years old, I became the only child to a single parent, my father, who was no longer in the Army at this time. Got out of the Army and pursued a life in business, worked for Johnson & Johnson, selling I.V. catheters and other medical supplies to hospitals. And he basically bit off a pretty hard job of being a single parent to a young boy from age 10 until I was 18 and left the house.

BROWN: Okay. And where were you living when he was working for Johnson & Johnson? All over the place?

SCHOFIELD: All over the place. So, he was working for J&J and then for subsidiaries of J&J. So, after Hawaii, I lived in Colorado for about four and a half years. And then from there, I lived in New Jersey for a year, right in the center of New Jersey. Ironically, where his family is originally from, a little town called Somerville. And then from there, I moved to Salt Lake City, Utah for about two years. And then back to Northern Jersey at the very beginning of my high school career in a town called Ramsey, New Jersey in Bergen County. I lived there my freshman, sophomore, and half of my junior year in high school. And then in the middle of my junior year in high school, I moved from Bergen County, New Jersey back to Salt Lake City, Utah, which I can tell you for an adolescent, who was 17 years old, was not a popular move. Because Ramsey, New Jersey, if you’re familiar, is close enough to New York City where you feel like you’re in, you’re in the thick of it. And then to go from there back to Salt Lake City, Utah, which is a 180 degree difference, was rough on an adolescent. But my dad loved it. As we all know, if we have teenage kids, the biggest thing you fear, particularly as a single parent, is what kind of trouble that teenage kid is going to get into. And I can tell you that in the late ‘80s in Salt Lake City, Utah, about impossible for a teenager to get in an age trouble at all. And I’ll just leave it at that.

BROWN: All right. So, it’s almost like you were an army brat, but not an army brat.

SCHOFIELD: Yeah, I didn’t remember a single time in my life, my dad being in uniform. I remember him inculcating the values of military service on me. But I almost remember more of his lessons to me as an athlete. So, my dad was a three-sport athlete in St. Mary’s High School in Annapolis, Maryland. Eventually went on to play goalie for the lacrosse team at the University of Maryland for four years. And for the last two years, he was an All-American and then his senior year as the team captain. So, he was a very, very good lacrosse player in a state that is kind of a lacrosse hotbed. But he played all athletics. And what he imbued upon me was an idea that it wasn’t so much military service, but it was team above self. And it made me a better athlete. It gave me a lot of the values that I used as I started to formulate my own philosophies and value systems as an adolescent, as a teenager, and then eventually as a collegiate.

BROWN: And are you passing on those same values to this one over here?

SCHOFIELD: Yeah, yeah. As my 15-year-old is sitting in the room, I try to tell him every single day that the best advice my dad always gave me was when I was playing baseball or when I was playing football or when I was playing basketball. Never played lacrosse. It hadn’t gotten out to Utah and out West back then, but it’s certainly popular there now. But say you make an error at third base, the ball goes under your legs, it kicks off your glove, you make that error. The biggest thing that he was always telling me was, “You better be hoping to God with everything you have that the very next hit comes to you at third base.” That you immediately get that chance to redeem yourself, that you immediately get that chance to be challenged again, that you immediately get that chance to audition one more time for the role of your life. And that might just be a simple ground ball in baseball. It might be a missed shot in basketball and then you get the ball again on the next possession, maybe in a critical period of the game where you can possibly hit the game winner. You are only as good as your very last play. And if your last play sucked, then hope for that next play to be your last play and that it doesn’t suck, that it’s great. And that’s what he taught me. And I can tell you right now that as a military officer, I relied on what he taught me as an athlete almost more than anything else.

BROWN: Interesting. No, that’s good. That’s a word of wisdom. So, you’re growing up, you’re moving back and forth. Salt Lake City. Talked to me about what made you consider the Navy as opposed to the Army?

SCHOFIELD: Well, I actually considered the Army first. So, I told you at the beginning of this, it’s kind of a circuitous route to how I ended up at Villanova. So, I’m a junior in high school. I’ve just moved back to Utah. I’ve now, at this point, kind of moved on from playing basketball. I’ve moved on from playing football. And at this point, I’m playing tennis and I’m playing tennis a lot, eventually rising up to the position where I’m playing number one singles for my high school team in Utah. And so, it gets to the point where, as a senior in high school, I’m deciding what to do. And not only do I want to go to college to play athletics, but I also want to go to college to serve in some way, shape, or form. So, I started applying. I applied to both service academies. I didn’t apply to Air Force, no disrespect to them. For me, there were only two service academies. It was Army and Navy. I applied there and then I applied for ROTC at Notre Dame, Duke, Carolina, Georgetown, you know, kind of your standard schools that are on that same conversational level as Villanova, but I never applied to Villanova. And I’ll get back to that here in a second. So long story short, my senior year in high school, I’ve developed through summer camps, a very good relationship with the tennis coach at West Point. I was born at West Point. I’ve got the last name Scofield, which kind of gives me a little bit of an in there. And I decided after getting turned down at a majority of those schools aforementioned to go to Army and to go to West Point. And I wasn’t necessarily a tennis recruit per se, but the understanding was I was going to play tennis. So, I arrived at West Point, and I was a member of the class of 1995 at West Point. I arrived. I graduated from high school in early June of 1991. And by July 1st of 1991, my dad dropped me off at the basketball arena at West Point, New York. And I entered in as a member of the Corps of Cadets.

BROWN: So, you’re there. You’re about to start your tennis career at West Point. But, you know, based on my knowledge of your history, the Army is not, you know, a part of that. So, talk to me about what happened and what led you to knocking on the halls of Connolly Center, as opposed to the Eisenhower building at West Point.

SCHOFIELD: Yeah. So, and it’s and it’s tied very closely to what I was saying about athletics and failure earlier and how you learn, you know, very well from failure, only if you choose to. You can let failure define you in a good way, or you can let failure define you in a bad way. So, I arrived at West Point on July 1st, 1991. And for those not necessarily educated about Surface Academy life: for the entirety of that period, for the entire month of July and August, you participate in what’s called “plebe summer.” At West Point, they specifically call it “beast barracks.” And that goes right until the academic year starts at the very latter stages of August. And through that time, I was great. I did very, very well. I liked running. I didn’t mind getting yelled at. You know, it was the I was the son of a of an athlete and a former Army officer. So, I knew it was what it was like to get yelled at. It wasn’t a big deal. And it was fine. I had visions of myself being a tennis star at West Point and being an army officer of great repute and going from there. And then we hit the academic year. And to be very frank about it, I just fell apart. I couldn’t handle the rigors of academics. Again, not to denigrate Utah public schools, but I just wasn’t ready. I just was not ready at all, particularly from a math and science standpoint, which I still don’t have a very good math and science acumen to this day. But as I arrived there, I knew within about two weeks into the academic year that I was going to get smoked. And it was going to take everything I had to make it. And the problem is that when certain things start knowing wrong in a service Academy atmosphere, you feel like it’s a tsunami on top of you. Everything starts going wrong. And when the upper classmen start seeing that you’re struggling in a certain way, they are trying to pick apart those weaknesses to see if you’re going to be the person who folds under pressure in a battlefield scenario. And for good reason, that’s what they should be doing. And I folded quick. By the time we got to the end of the academic year, it was done. I basically had failed every single class I was taking. I started getting pretty mouthy as the frustration mounted and in the military, you don’t tolerate people who were mouthy. And, and I got kicked out. I arrived back home and Utah, my dad was living there. He was sitting there thinking, “Whoa, I just got away with not having to pay four years of college. This kid’s good.” And I came limping home and basically said, “Hey, it’s on me. I jacked it up. And I got kicked out. And I don’t really know what to do.” And true to my dad’s form – and again, I’m going to keep coming back to these very early lessons taught to people when they’re 10 or 11 years old – he said, “All right, well, it’s the holidays. We’ll celebrate the holidays. We’ll get you back on your feet. And then, you know, you’re 18 years old. In January, you got to figure out where you’re going to live and what you’re going to do.” And I said, “Well, that’s here, right? I’m living at home, right?” “No, no, you’re not. That’s just not the way this goes.” And again, learn from your failure. All right, the ball just went between your legs at third base. When are you hoping the next rounder comes? And so, I had to grow up pretty quick and learn from the failure. And I immediately enrolled at the University of Utah, mostly so I could have a place to live. And I lived with a buddy of mine who I graduated from high school with and started taking classes at university, taught with the mind that I could kind of get back on my feet again. And the good thing that happened there was that I had already received the four-year Navy ROTC scholarship from the Navy Department of Education and Training, “NETC” as they call it, Navy Education and Training Command. And I called them right as I arrived home just before, just before the new year and just said, “Hey, I turned down the scholarship before I went to a service academy, I got smoked, got kicked out, can I possibly reactivate the scholarship?” And they said, “Yeah, sure,” you know, “just all you have to do is get into a school and you can do it.” And so, I immediately applied. And this is where Villanova becomes a very interesting part of my story. I had never seen this campus ever, sight unseen. But I was an Irish Catholic kid back in Utah, surrounded I think I was like one of six or seven non-Mormon dudes in the entire state.

BROWN: [laughs]

SCHOFIELD: That’s obviously a joke and an exaggeration. But I wanted to pursue something that could allow me to be in a Catholic environment. Not that I was pursuing a religious experience, but I just wanted to feel part of a small community like that. And I knew enough about the demographic of Villanova that it was much in the same way of schools that I had previously applied to and didn’t get into: Notre Dame, Georgetown. So instead of reapplying to Notre Dame and Georgetown, where I’d previously been denied, I applied to Villanova and I got in. I think a couple of strings were pulled. I had a member of my family working at the Naval Education and Training Command. I applied like really late. And we were able to get me in. And then in August of 1992, I arrived at Villanova.

BROWN: As a 19-year-old.

SCHOFIELD: As a 19-year-old, yeah.

BROWN: So, you get here, and what’s the difference between that first indoctrination to education at Villanova compared to the first stages of that West Point? Were you more mature? Were you more prepared?

SCHOFIELD: I was. I felt like I had already been away from home. I felt like I had already seen the worst elements of failure. I felt like I could really handle anything. Like if I could fail on that grand and strategic level at West Point, which was humiliating and tough and difficult, then I could handle anything. And truth be told, I thought that ROTC compared to the service Academy environment would be a joke. It wasn’t a joke, but it was certainly easier. And what it allowed me to do is where I needed a ton of time to catch up with my academics, which eventually came back to hurt me a bunch here at Villanova too. I didn’t have to spend as much time learning the structure and the sacrifice of the military. So, when ROTC people come to Villanova, they start what’s called India Company, or at least for Navy ROTC. It’s called India Company, which means when everyone else shows up for orientation, you’re in there, you’re singing the songs, and you’re running around the campus, which is super cool. Definitely not something they do at West Point. And so, it immediately makes you feel part of a family and that orientation group, I still talk to five or six of them today. Do I talk to a single person I ever went to West Point with? No. And that was just the difference of the experience. And then I came in and it was immediately something that was a little bit more cajoling and a little bit more inclusive, and a little bit more family driven. But then I had to start India Company and India Company goes through the first six weeks of your freshman year here. And I really didn’t have to work too hard at that. Six weeks of doing India Company as part of ROTC as a means of indoctrination was nothing compared to the two months, and then eventually five and a half months, that I spent at West Point. And so that it allowed me to get really kick started on fixing myself academically.

BROWN: When you’re here, did it live up to your expectations? You said you wanted to be, you know, part feel a part of a community of family. And it sounds like Villanova lived up to those expectations. Talk to me about that Villanova experience for you and how much it means to you.

SCHOFIELD: It means the world. I got choked up just thinking about it that when I came to Villanova, I was fragile. I was in a tough place. I had you know a tough family upbringing. I didn’t have like the best memories on that end. I had had a very poor memory starting off my collegiate career. It soured me on playing tennis again. I never picked up a tennis racket again still to this day. And I needed something. I needed something to help me. And when I walked on this campus and then first day I walked on the campus, it was pouring. Like it was an ugly day here. But after that it was just it was just one of the best experiences I’ve ever been around. I’ll never forget the very first class I walked into. It was on the second floor. Ironically of John Berry Hall, it was an English class. The professor I still remember this day. Her last name was Belize. And I just immediately felt like I belonged here. The smallness of it. The beauty of the campus. There’s something to be said about how beautiful this campus is. And I was walking my son around today. Like, this place is incredible. And so, it took a very malleable 18, 19 year old kid walking on the campus, and it shaped me in you know the spirit of the Augustinians, the spirit of service, the spirit of what it means to be a Villanovan. And I bring it back to the idea of putting you know, in the Navy, we call it, ship-shipmate-self. You know, of institution, teammate, and then yourself of giving of yourself. And I was able to learn that doing campus ministry. I joined everything. I joined Blue Key,[1] which to this day is one of – I loved, with no disrespect to the Navy – I loved Blue Key more than any other thing I did here. Because it allowed me to share my love of the institution and the campus with other people who were making the same tough decision I had to make. So yeah, I could talk for two hours about what the community meant to me. But it came down to the friendliness of the people, the friendliness of the staff. How nice my fellow classmates were. How beautiful the campus was. And then then we went from there. I’m still a little bit mad during orientation. It was Steve Lapis’s first year as the basketball coach. He stood up there and promised by the time we graduated that we’d have a national title. Didn’t happen. So, I still see him from time to time. He would do CBS Sports basketball broadcast for the Army Navy basketball game, when they play at Navy, and I’ll always go find him and remind him that he broke that promise to me.

BROWN: [laughs] Jay Wright’s made up for it, I think.

SCHOFIELD: I think he’s made up for it a lot.

BROWN: So, what are some of your, outside of just those four things, what are some of your fondest memories of being here on campus? Are there anything that stick out to say that’s what a Villanova experience is all about?

SCHOFIELD: Yeah, I would say that the best experiences were the ones that allowed me to see the wide array of what Villanova had to offer. I joined a fraternity. I didn’t stay in the fraternity. But I wanted to see what it was like to be in a fraternity. I joined Blue Key, loved Blue Key. I did campus ministry trips. I wasn’t the most religious guy, but I wanted to see what it was like. So, and then a very huge one is I met my wife here. She lived in Alumni Hall. I walked my son right by there today and said, “Hey that’s where I met your mom.” And those relationships, not only from not only from the people I was able to do campus ministry with, and those experiences brought you back to campus feeling so much more enlightened about other people and their viewpoints on the world. But yeah, the relationships I made with my ROTC classmates, at least 10 of whom I’m still incredibly close to today. With my instructors, with my other friends here, it’s the relationships that make this place special. And what Villanova I think does is institutionally drives people toward relationships. I’ll come back to orientation. Maybe other schools do that. I don’t know. I haven’t researched it. But that first couple of days on campus where you got to sit in a circle and learn about everybody and feel the inclusivity of everything. It was special. I’ll say my most impactful memory was that first day of orientation and meeting those people with whom I still exchange correspondence today.

BROWN: That’s fantastic to be here. I like that. And so, from that day, 19-what? ’91?


BROWN: ’92. How has the campus changed from today when you took your son on a campus tour?

SCHOFIELD: [laughs] Well, they had just built South Campus. In fact, two of the buildings on South Campus weren’t even named. They called them “new male” and “new female.” Can you believe that?

BROWN: [laughs]

SCHOFIELD: Literally for the entire year, they were named “new male and new female.”

BROWN: That is amazing.

SCHOFIELD: [laughs] Way to get original with your naming, Villanova. And you know, and when I showed up, Father Peter, I think he was living in Corr or Fedigan. No, I think Father Stack was living in Corr. But, you know, here you were, you had all of these very – the campus seemed new. And it was, you know, you had a very young Father Peter, saying that to kind of jab at him. I hope he listens to this later, you know, living amongst the students, you know, teaching theology, amongst other things. You know, very involved in in I was going to call it masqueraders. That’s what the Naval Academy calls it, but the theater troop here. The other huge change, well, that driving down Lancaster Avenue today, you’d come down and you’d see St. Thomas of Villanova on your left, and you look to the right. And there was the biggest parking lot you ever saw in your life. And that’s gone, obviously. And those buildings are amazing. It looks incredible. There was what’s called Bartley Circle. And that’s where everyone would get like their takeout delivered, that Bartley Circle’s gone. And the biggest thing I lived in St. Mary’s Hall, my freshman and sophomore years. Behind St. Mary’s Hall was nothing. Like that big mansion was back there, but it was unoccupied and like people told haunted mansion stories. And now they do like a lot of receptions and like reunions in there, right? I remember I came back for our 15th or 10th reunion, and we had like our reception on this mansion, but it wasn’t until sophomore year they started the construction of all of those apartments back behind St. Mary’s Hall. But my freshman year is just all woods. I’m not going to say what we went back and did in those woods, but yeah, it could have involved a beer or two. So, watching how much it changed was incredible. I’ll never forget my freshman year in St. Mary’s Hall. There are no phones in the rooms, no phones. There was a pay phone outside of the room. And again, talking about how you drove people to making relationships, the pay phone would ring in the hallway. And it would be someone’s parent like, “Hey, can I talk to Jeff? He’s in St. Mary’s room 213.” And you’d have to like to walk your ass down to two 13 and like knock on the door like, “Hey, Jeff, your mom is on the phone.” And I’m acting like it was a grind. It wasn’t a grind. It was awesome. And you know, that’s a huge, I don’t think my son even knows what a payphone is. But that’s how that’s how it was. There was no – I was typing my very first papers here on a brother word processor. That was my first paper, my freshman year. By the time I was a senior at the basement of Mendel Hall, the computer lab was in its very nascent stages. And I remember I typed up my senior thesis for sociology from that computer lab. But it was nothing like the computers you see nowadays. So technologically, but also the face of the university has changed immeasurably. But it’s still so familiar. It sounds totally corny, but it is. It’s completely familiar.

BROWN: Sure. And so, now we’re wrapping up your time here at Villanova and you’re getting your assignment. You know, are you going to be a logistics officer, a supply, whatever. So where were you hoping to be and where do you end up? Do those align or are those not so aligned? [laughs]

SCHOFIELD: So, again, a pretty circuit route. I wasn’t the best midshipman. And I own that. And all of my classmates who might hear this will agree with that. I did very well. But again, academics kind of torched me a little bit. So, what a lot of people don’t know about being a Navy ROTC student is you can major in sociology, which I did. Well, I double majored in poli science and sociology. But you have to take certain courses in order to satisfy your ROTC scholarship. And that included Calc 1 and 2. And then physics 1 and 2.

BROWN: Math and science, going back to West Point.

SCHOFIELD: So, I was able to get through Calc. I think I got a C and a D+ in Calc 1 and 2 and then started a very, very rough journey. Taking physics, which I still, I’m not even saying this tongue in cheek. I still sort of have PTSD about. I would, I’ll shorten the story. I failed physics three times. No, I, you know, physics 1, F, physics 1 again, D, physics 2, F, physics 2 again, F, physics 2 for the last time, D. And it got to the point where I had failed it so many times that by the time I failed at the second time, which was second semester junior year, the Navy ROTC program was like, “We can’t. They only offer physics two in the spring semester. That’s how it works. And we can’t take the risk of you failing at spring semester senior, because then you don’t graduate. So, you’re going to have to take an independent study.” And I’ll never forget my instructor. And I wonder if he’s still here. He was the chair of the physics department for a while, but Professor Hones, very, very sweet man, patient man, allowed me to take physics two for the third time independent study. And he would just sit there and be like, “You’ve got to get it now, right? This is the third time you’ve seen this.” And I, no, I don’t get it. And probably out of the kindness of his heart, I passed it. And that really hurt my GPA. I think I graduated with a 3.7 in sociology and a 3.6 in political science. And my cumulative GPA, when I graduated, which still hurts me to this day, because it’s affected my abilities to get into grad schools in the past. My cumulative GPA in the end was like a 2.93. Failing physics a bunch of times will do that to you.

BROWN: Indeed.

SCHOFIELD: So, I was delayed in my – I graduated on time, but I was delayed in getting my commission because the second time I failed physics 2, I did it during summer school. And they let me take summer school in lieu of doing my cruise, my summer cruise, which is mandatory, you have to do those training. So, I graduated in May. James Earl Jones was our graduation speaker, it was very moving. He ended the speech with, “And may the force be with you,” and everyone went nuts. And then I had to leave like two days later and do my summer cruise. So, I wasn’t commissioned as an officer until July 3 of 1996, when all of my classmates were commissioned in May, right after graduation on the same day as graduation. So, I was assigned to a ship out of San Diego. I stayed here for about three or four months, helping out in John Berry Hall, working for the ROTC unit. And then I departed for Surface Warfare Officer School in Newport, Rhode Island in November of ‘96, and eventually got to my ship in San Diego in June of ‘97.

BROWN: And from that point, you know, you’re a part of the, the real Navy. And before we started this interview, you started talking about your loves in life, and Navy is one of them. So when you get there, were you, was it love at first sight, or did that love grow on you?

SCHOFIELD: It grew. It was hard. And I’ll never forget our senior enlisted advisor here in the ROTC unit, about three or four weeks before the end of school, our senior year. His name was, Jerry Kernan. He was a quartermaster chief. Jerry took me aside one day. I had showed up late for like a morning run, and we were seniors. All seniors showed up late to everything. You know, the closer you got to the senior crawl, when you know, the more the later you showed up for stuff, do we still do? Do they still do the senior crawl here?

BROWN: I’m not sure. I’ll have to ask.

SCHOFIELD: It used to be like the very first day of graduation week, every senior would do a crawl. They’d started like Annie’s way down the road, and like they’d hit every bar on the way down until you, until you got to Kelly. Kelly’s was the last stop. And I digress. But actually, what was I talking about?

BROWN: Your love for the Navy and your quartermaster had pushed you. [laughs]

SCHOFIELD: Oh, yeah. Yeah. So, quartermaster chief Jerry Kernan pulled me aside about three or four weeks before we graduated, and he was very blunt. He’s like, “Scofield, you’re going to get smoked out there. They’re going to eat you alive. You are going to fail. You are going to fail miserably. It’s because you’ve got a bad attitude. It’s because you’re showing up late. You’ve obviously shown that the academics are too much. They are going to eat you alive.” And it’s one of those seminal moments that sticks with you. We all have a small library of them. But I’ll never forget hearing that and saying, “That’s just not gonna, it’s just not gonna happen.” I didn’t think I was going to be a career officer. But I knew that I was going to go out there and not be outworked. I had been sort of outworked by the academics, both at West Point and here. But being in the Navy requires almost more sociology in the leadership of people and the understanding of people and the motivation of people than it does understanding the academics of it. It’s a science background. I went out to my first ship, and I was the auxiliaries and electrical engineering officer. You know, like the most science-based job on the ship.

BROWN: [laughs]

SCHOFIELD: And I’m like, “You guys know what just happened to me, right?” Like, this might not be the best move. And they don’t care out there. We had a mission. We were on a ship that was going into the Arabian Gulf to launch Tomahawks into Iraq because Saddam Hussein had just kicked out the weapons inspectors for the first time. And this is early 1998. So, I went out there with Chief Kernan’s words in my head every single day. And I worked my butt off every single day to be the best leader I could be. And what that did, and I’ve believed in this every single moment after my first ship throughout my 21 career in the Navy, is that if you truly make your people feel like they are the most special ones on the planet, that you understand them, that you care about them, that you will take care of them no matter what, they will take care of you no matter what. And my sailors, my guys, on that first ship, USS Kincaid, DD-965 out of San Diego, they took care of me. And I succeeded in ways I can’t even believe. I received my surface warfare officer pin and designation as an ensign, which doesn’t happen a lot. I was able to do it very fast. I had a successful deployment. I got all of the qualifications. I was able to earn awards. I was a visit board search and seizure officer that they call it VBSS out there. But they gave someone as dumb as me a gun and let me get into a small boat. And I was part of this small seven-to-ten-man team getting into our small boat and boarding these vessels coming out of the …[2] Iraq and inspecting them for potential embargo violations, which involved some pretty hairy stuff. Like I’ve pointed a gun at people, which I still to this day can’t believe. So, it taught me that, again, I am as marked as I can be by my failures in my past. And what I keep trying to imbue upon my kids and keep trying to learn my own life now as a 46-year-old is that it’s not about that last failure. It’s about the success that comes after that failure. And you have to work. You have to you have to you have to turn the ship into the wind and work your butt off to find that success. And I was able to get it on that first ship. And it truly did set me on the course that brought me into this very room today.

BROWN: How long were you assigned to that ship? And then what’s, you know, what’s happening next? What’s your next step? Are you staying in San Diego? You’re moving on to a different duty station?

SCHOFIELD: So, I did two years on that ship that included a six-month deployment to the Arabian Gulf, which is always tough being away from home. And that’s – this is back before they had phones on ships and email on ships. This is the old days where you pulled into Hong Kong and you found a pay phone and you figured out how to use a Hong Kong pay phone to call home or else your loved one, my new wife at that time, they’re not hearing from you. They’re not hearing from you for months at a time. That’s just the way it was. So, two years on that ship, which included that seven-month deployment. And then I went and did about a year and a half, which is the way that the Navy tours work back then. You did two years on your first ship, a year and a half on your second ship. And that got you to with that six-month school in Newport, Rhode Island, that every surface warfare officer has to take that gets you to the four-year mark. For ROTC graduates, that’s ironically right at that four year mark that you don’t owe any time left, because as a matter of the Navy paying for your education of Villanova or at any other ROTC institution, you owe four years of service. So, I left USS Kincade. I went to USS Pearl Harbor, which is a brand-new amphibious ship called an amphib. LSD 52 was the whole number, and we did another, that one was a six-and-a-half-month deployment. Same place, Arabian Gulf, same stuff doing VBSS search and seizure, you know, a pretty tenuous time with our relations up there in the Persian Gulf. And yeah, that brings me right to the point where they usually put officers on shore duty because they’ve just kicked the crap out of you for four years out at sea. They want you to go to shore so that you can actually normalize – or they want you to have a

good duty after being at sea so you can normalize. So that good duty luckily for me was the U.S. Naval Academy and I was able to – and I had never lived there. My dad went to high school there. I knew of it. I had been to the University of Maryland basketball camps as a kid. I was familiar with Annapolis but hadn’t lived there. So, I was able because of my success on those two ships, and on both of those ships, I was good. I was a good officer. And it got me through an interview where I was allowed to be a part of the faculty at the Naval Academy where I was teaching leadership, seamanship and navigation, and kind of the senior capstone course for mid-shipmen who were going to go out and be surface warfare officers. So, here I was about four and a half years removed from Jerry Kernan telling me that I was going to get eaten alive to being the guy who was teaching mid-shipment at the Naval Academy about how to not get eaten alive. And it meant a lot to me. And I can tell you it was right there that I knew. I toyed around with the idea of getting out a couple of times in there. I even tried a couple of times. But I sort of knew when I arrived at the Naval Academy that first time that I was going to be that that I was going to be good at this and I was going to stick with it.

BROWN: So, you decided to re-enlist?

SCHOFIELD: Yep. So, I signed up for two more two more years to teach at the Naval Academy, that turned into about two and a half years. And during that time, I was selected for what’s called a lateral transfer to a different community. So, the Navy has a slew of communities. There’s the Mavericks out there who are flying jets and aviators, submariners, surface warfare officers. And then you have the Marine Corps, seals, kind of the well-known areas of service out there within the umbrella of the Department of the Navy. But then you have a lot of smaller communities that support those big warfare communities. Things like supply corps, medical corps, medical service corps, intelligence, cryptology. And then another one of those support corps is the public affairs officer corps. A very, very small cadre of officers, about 255 to 260. And their specialty is public relations, telling the Navy’s story, writing, and communications across a broad spectrum of mission areas. And what I knew I could do; I certainly knew I couldn’t do physics.

BROWN: [laughs]

SCHOFIELD: And I certainly knew that math and science were tough, but I knew that I could stand in front of a group of people like I did the Blue Key Society and talk. I knew that I was very comfortable in my skin communicating. I knew that I could write well. And I knew that I wanted to pursue that as a specialty. So, I asked for and was selected for transfer to public affairs. And from the Naval Academy, I went to public affairs school, which was in Fort Meade, Maryland. And then I went to back-to-back-to back tours in D.C. My first tour was the deputy public affairs officer for the Surgeon General to Navy. So, communicating about the very first men and women coming back from Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom from Afghanistan and Iraq, with those first legacy injuries that we see so much of today.

BROWN: Sure.

SCHOFIELD: And I’ll never forget being there at Naval Hospital Bethesda, back when Walter Reed and Bethesda were different hospitals. Being there and coordinating the media coverage of those very first wounds of war coming back. When an amputation was kind of a new thing, IED was a previously unused term. So, communicating the nuance, communicating the context and perspective of the of the care we are trying to deliver at the very nascent stages of what would become, I don’t know, 17 years now that were that were at it over there. It was neat. It was fun. I went from there to the Pentagon, where I was at headquarters Navy, communicating right there at the headquarters element, right where the plane hit the building a couple of years before then. And then I went from there to be the communicator for the assistant secretary of the Navy for research development and acquisition, where I was communicating about new weapons programs. Weapons programs that were new back then and are now part of the everyday fleet. I was there when we signed the contract to build USS Gerald R. Ford, the newest aircraft carrier. I was there when we signed the contract to build what was then called the Littoral Combat Ship Program. Now we have, I think a 15 in the water. I was there at the very beginning stages of what was called the Joint Strike Fighter. Now they’re flying them. It was neat. I was also there when we tried to build the first iteration of the new presidential helicopter, which was eventually a wild failure as an acquisition program and took a lot of took a lot of nuanced communications in order to talk about that. So, yeah, that back-to-back-to back D.C. tours were tough, but it taught me a new level of communication, which still helps me today. I’m owning my own business today, communicating across a broad spectrum of communication topics. I would not have been able to do what I do today without those three D.C. tours back-to-back. Medicine, headquarters element, acquisition, learning what a firm fixed price contract was. It was neat and it forced me to learn and the constant there, the great thing was that none of those things I had to learn, none of those were physics. [laughs]

BROWN: Correct. No more F’s. [laughs] So back-to-back-to back tours put you at what year is this?


BROWN: And how many years have you been in now?

SCHOFIELD: So now, I’m at 12 years and you’re right at that decision point—

BROWN: Right. Again.

SCHOFIELD: And what a lot of people need to learn, and I have just little superficial conversations with my oldest son about this, but I’m not saying that military service is a panacea of any kind, but graduating from college and not having any school loans is quite a thing, quite an enabling thing that allowed us to buy a house very early on, a house that we then sold for a profit that, again, second and third order effects that we’re still enjoying today. I’ll never forget my wife and I when we got married, she went here for four years wasn’t on ROTC or anything just was from Central Jersey and went here as a student and we’re doing our first budget as a married couple and I was like, “Wow, this looks good like we’re great. I might go out and buy like a BMW.” And she was like, “Oh, you didn’t factor in my school loans.” And I’ll never forget I was like, “What the F is a school loan,” like what are you talking about? And she had $58,000 in school loans, which back then was a lot. Yeah, I think Villanova back then was $23 to $24[3] a year. I now know that it’s like $48, $52, $58. I mean how do people do this? So yeah, it was it was wild to do that, but I bring it back full circle. At that 12-year mark knowing, all right I didn’t have any school loans we paid off the school loans my spouse had. If you can get the 20 years, you are sitting on, you already got a lottery ticket all right, by having school paid for. The gigantic lottery ticket waiting for you if you do 20 years in the military is almost impossible to quantify. You get a pension immediately. As a 45-year-old man, I was getting a pension check and you never pay a health care bill for the rest of your life, which all you have to do is watch the democratic debates the last two nights, healthcare is kind of a hard issue. So, at that 12-year mark we made the very easy decision: “Well, let’s take it the rest of the road.” We didn’t have to move them at all. So, my oldest son was born in 2003, right as I was leaving the Naval Academy. His little brother was born in 2005, when I was working in the Pentagon. And then right there in 2008, our last son Carter was born and then we had our first move in their life. I was able to go to grad school. They sent me to the Naval War College in in Newport, Rhode Island, which was a great year a fantastic year, you know just getting reinvigorated by education, certainly I was PTSD-ing a little bit going back to school considering what physics had done to me here. Despite my love of Villanova, I walked by Mendel Hall today and I was like, “Oh man, some bad things happen in that building, man.”

BROWN: [laughs]

SCHOFIELD: But going up to the War College and studying Naval history and really eating it alive, strategy, policy, tactics. It made me appreciate not only history, but military history and not only history, but how you apply history to being a better tactician, operator, and strategist going forward. So, then I went from that one year to the War College. I graduated in 2009 and then I was the first operational PAO – public affairs officer – on USS George H.W. Bush out of Norfolk, Virginia. And that by far was my finest time up to that point in my life.

BROWN: Why so?

SCHOFIELD: It was a brand-new ship, it was it was a neat experience, it was another challenge from the leadership standpoint in that the back-to-back-to back tours I did in the Pentagon, I wasn’t leading sailors anymore. I was pushing paper, I was making coffee for admirals, I was writing up briefing papers about why a particular shipbuilding program was gonna fail. It didn’t teach you to lead, it taught you how to act, but it didn’t teach you to lead. And again, I was where I was because of my ability to lead and because of my love of leadership. So, getting on the brand-new aircraft carrier, the newest ship in the Navy, it had that new car smell. It was sweet, and it’s an aircraft carrier. It’s humongous.

BROWN: Yeah.

SCHOFIELD: So, on that ship, I was in charge of, you know, the communications, but also the creation of all like publications and other support materials to inform the crew of our mission and things like that. But I was also in charge of – shout out to the Blue Key Society here – I was also in charge of what’s called the distinguished visitor program. You know, you only have 11 aircraft carriers in the Navy, and so what the Navy does – and I think this is a smart strategy – is they get senior leaders within the civilian sector out to aircraft carriers to educate them about what we’re doing: “Here’s the Navy mission, and here’s why the defense budget when the president signs out every year,” and people are like, “We’re spending how much?” Like, “Why are we doing that?” Let’s show you what that power projection provides you in terms of national security. Now that’s a stretch, but the aircraft carrier is part of that power projection that makes people feel like the military is worth the investment, right? So, I was in charge of giving tours of the ship, both in port and while at sea, to senior leadership. That included the namesake of our ship. I was able to meet and walk around the ship for two days George Herbert Walker Bush, which was one of the true great moments of my life. And I still communicate with that family today, which is neat. We had NASCAR drivers – I don’t watch NASCAR drivers – but we had Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Jimmy Johnson out to the ship one time and if a Navy sailor likes anything, they like themselves a NASCAR driver, like I’d have the President of Chick-fil-A out there giving out free spicy chicken sandwich coupons and they were like, “Yeah, whatever.” I had these two NASCAR drivers out there and you would have thought like Pearl Jam was playing Lollapalooza in the flight deck, they were going— I think I probably dated myself with the Pearl Jam reference there too. It was neat. And taking very malleable people who didn’t know anything about the Navy and walking them around the ship and educating them. Members of Congress, senators. My very second group, so I got to the aircraft carrier in 2009, we were still in the shipyard, and we got out to sea to start you know testing out the ship and getting people out there for the first time in January of 2010. So, what happens in January of well, January 2009 was the Obama inauguration, so right in like January 2010 who comes out to the ship to experience a Navy you know what the Navy is all about, but it’s all of these new people from the Obama White House. Like Rahm Emanuel, you know the speech writer, the person who ran social media for the Obama White House. It was neat to educate them about what it was. See them try to go back and be better legislators, you know and advocates of the Navy. So, we just did a lot of cool things. It’s cool to be around F-18s taking off and landing every day. It was a fun two years it was really fun.

BROWN: And now you’re getting up to what, 14, 15 years at this point, right?

SCHOFIELD: Yeah, so, I leave the aircraft carrier in 2011. So, I’m now at 15 years. It was a mandatory, it’s a two-year tour on an aircraft carrier. And I’m not trying to throw propaganda on here. Every single one of these tours, I had plenty of screw-ups. You know, the Navy allows you to get to 20 years by screwing up. You just have to make sure that you learn from them. So, I still had plenty of times when I would you know screw up a tour or say the wrong thing to an elected official, but you learn from those experiences, you became better, and you drove on. So, I got to 2011, I had survived that tour widely known as the toughest tour that public affairs officers can do, and I was able to come back to Maryland and teach and run the public affairs school at Fort Meade. So, I was the Navy element commander as they call it, in charge of the Navy element of training for enlisted and officers, and the Navy who are going on to a specialty of public affairs. So, it allowed me to teach but also be an administrator of sorts, work on the curriculum, what are we teaching them? Is it the right stuff to teach them? So, I did that for two years from 2011 to 2013 and then I got my dream job, the very best thing that’s ever happened to me other than my family obviously, which was to be selected to be the public affairs officer at the Naval Academy. And I did that from 2013 to 2016. And I love Villanova with all my heart, it’s my very favorite place in the world. Very, very close second is the US Naval Academy.

BROWN: And talk to me about your – what does that mean? What does it mean to be the public affairs officer at the Naval Academy? What are your responsibilities?

SCHOFIELD: You’re the director of communications. You know, you’re in charge of all communication, internally between the staff and the faculty making sure that they understand what the policies are, from as tactical and menial as whether it’s a snow day today. And believe me, I’ve gotten stomped more for not getting the word out about snow days than I have about strategic level like accreditation level issues, which talks about the tumult that exists around this this career field. It’s tough, but yeah being the director, I was in charge of the community relations between the Naval Academy and the local Annapolis community. I was in charge of all the publications that we put out you know anywhere from a school newspaper to management of our social media mediums, which you know the we were kind of at the nascent stages of twitter, dealing with new social media like Yik Yak, which no longer exists thank goodness. But yeah, the you know how do you use these to communicate to these myriad audiences; and the audiences are difficult at a school like the Naval Academy in that you’re dealing with staff and faculty. The staff and faculty at the Naval Academy is exactly half civilian and half military. So, two completely different demographics there. And then a group of 4,400 students. Now that 18- to 22-year-old demographic is also a difficult demographic to which to speak, and you have to augment your message appropriately there too. And then you’ve got families, and there’s no helicopter parent quite like a service Academy parent. So, you’ve got to assuage their fears every time there was a snow day, like they thought they thought it was like yeah a nuclear bomb is gonna hit the Naval – “Is my is my little boy gonna be okay?” “Yeah, it’s six inches of snow, he’s gonna be fine.” And then a very unique audience that I don’t think any other school has to deal with, but alumni at the Naval Academy are, and at every service Academy I have to imagine, are really hard bunch because a lot of them are now one star, two star, three star, four star admirals, either currently on active duty or retired. A lot of them hailed from the day before they were women allowed at the Naval academy, and again not to throw any shade on the Naval academy, but we dealt with a lot of feedback from alumni that often you know if we had a female midship and on the cover of the graduation program that these guys would stomp you because they were, you know, “I graduated in 1958 and that’s when men were men and women knew their place.” And you’re like, “Well, you can’t talk like that number one, and you can’t believe that number two, and the importance should probably be flipped.”

BROWN: [laughs]

SCHOFIELD: But we’d have stuff like that, and as the communicator, you can’t say it the way I just said it. Although I’d love to be as snarky and pithy as that, you’d have to find a very diplomatic and skillful way in order to communicate these things to all of these audiences. And then on top of that, you’ve got the external media who really think everything that happens at the Naval Academy is a front-page story. Well, it is and again the timeliness of this of this taping, here we are in August 1st, I got two calls from the media yesterday, and I still talk to the media in my civilian capacity because they know I know the Naval Academy about what is a front-page story. This morning, that happened yesterday, and that was President Trump appointing Sean Spicer to be on the Board of Visitors at the U.S. Naval Academy, just a big deal to a lot of people who are directly and tangentially associated with the Naval Academy.

BROWN: Sure.

SCHOFIELD: So, you know, the external media turns what, to a lot of people are very pedestrian events, they turn them into very big mountains. And that, you know that fish tank where everyone’s looking at the Naval Academy down there. So, dealing with the external media was a huge challenge and we had challenges. My very first year, we had a very high-level rape case that really marked our time of three male midshipmen who were on the football team being accused of rape by a female midshipman. It was on the front page of every newspaper, we were on ESPN, we were on – I had to talk to Anderson Cooper. My fourth day on the job, I picked up the phone. Well, let me back up. My first day on the job, I’m introducing myself to everybody and the jag, or the lawyer for the Naval Academy, comes down like, “Hey, I’m Bill, nice to meet you. You must be the new PAO, welcome aboard. Hey, we got a couple of things going, not a big deal, there is this rape case. It’s been kind of brewing for a while, but we’re not necessarily sure how much news it’s gonna make, although the accuser’s lawyer has contacted the New York Times. So, I don’t know, it might turn into something, but hey welcome aboard, have a good tour.” All right, no big deal. Three days later, my phone rings. It’s Jim Rise of the New York Times. Now, like, I’m not expecting everyone to know who Jim Risen is, but that’s a big deal. And for the rest of that year, I was talking to Anderson Cooper, Jim Risen, Jeremy Shap of ESPN. I was talking to almost every paper and we went through this case for the entirety of a year, trying to talk about the narrative of what we were doing to combat this scourge of sexual assault, which isn’t a Naval Academy issue, it’s not a college issue, it’s not an it’s not an America issue. This is a global issue that requires attention, and it is a scourge, and it’s awful. We were trying to communicate that all while a current case was going on.

BROWN: Right.

SCHOFIELD: And you couldn’t talk about the case. So, it made you look like you were obfuscating, you know, and that was tough and frustrating. And during that year, three midshipmen died. I was standing five feet away as we fished one of our midshipmen out of College Creek on the grounds of the Naval Academy. He had driven his car off of the bridge during a holiday weekend, and the ice had frozen over the car. He had driven it off Friday night and we didn’t find him until Monday. We had sequestration and the furlough of almost the entire civilian faculty and civilian staff during that year. It was a rough, rough year, but it taught me how to be a better communicator, and I really truly loved the opportunity to guide us through those tough times. And then after that, the next two years were a lot easier, but we were definitely informed by the difficulty of that first year there.

BROWN: Is that your last duty station?

SCHOFIELD: Yeah. So, July of 2016, I was commissioned, July 3rd of 1996, and so I was at 20 years, and so I had to make a decision: do I stay in, or do I get out? And you can only be at the Naval Academy for three years. If I could have been there for a zillion years, I would have and so, I was talking to the Navy about what to do. I was a commander at the time. Do I try to make the next rank, which is captain? Do I possibly move my family, which we didn’t really want to do? And the Navy came back with a couple of options. You know, one of those options was to go to Bahrain for two years. Just look at his face like, he wasn’t going to Bahrain for two years, right?  So, I basically said, “Hey, I’d really have to be blown away in order to stay in. I have hit the lottery ticket date. I’m here, I made it.” You know, Jerry Kernan would have never thought this day would be here, nor would Jack Schofield for that matter.

BROWN: Right.

SCHOFIELD: So, I made the decision, all right, well if you want to keep me local, I’ll go to the Pentagon and see how that would go. So, I left the Naval Academy in August of 2016 and by the time the election took place in November of that year, and then we got into January of 2017, I just said, “This isn’t necessarily something I want to keep doing.”

BROWN: Sure.

SCHOFIELD: So, then I had my retirement ceremony. My retirement ceremony was at the Naval Academy in Memorial Hall on May 5, 2017. It ended the journey, but it was a fantastic ride.

BROWN: And what’s life been like as a civilian?

SCHOFIELD: It’s been good. So, you have a lot of financial flexibility as a retiree. You have VA disability benefits. You have your Navy pension. It allows you to eschew those opportunities to go and work for Boeing or Lockheed, or general dynamics, and have your face buried in your Blackberry all day and working 13-hour days. It allows you to coach your kids’ basketball team or baseball team. It allows you to be home more. So, I took an appointment with Governor Hogan, the Republican governor of the state of Maryland, right after I retired to come aboard and do communications for the state of Maryland for two years. I was very clear with them, “Hey, this is,” as a lot of people call it, “this is my bridge. I am bridge jobbing here. I appreciate it, thank you.”

BROWN: Right.

SCHOFIELD: But I’m specifically taking this job because I’m not the director. I’m not the guy.  I’m not Sean Spicer to Larry Hogan. I can relax. I’ve served 20 years, but like I said, you’re never done auditioning. So, I still want to do something of value. So, I worked for the Hogan administration for two years. I was very clear with them, as I was going through, this is my bridge until I’m able to start my own company and better formulate, narrow the aperture as it were, about what I really want to do. And what I really, really wanted to do was start my own company, start my own firm, and then communicate for causes that meant a lot to me.

BROWN: Sure.

SCHOFIELD: And I’m not saying that those are political causes, per se, and that once you’re out of uniform, you’re able to be a little bit more loquacious politically. You are, which is great, but I wanted to really have a diverse portfolio of stuff I could do so that it didn’t get stale. And so now, as part of starting my company, which is called Provision Advisors, which I started with two fellow Navy retirees. We’ve been able to sign contracts to do communications, and branding, and advising, and consulting for companies like Boeing, you know, which is one of our contracts, but also a company like Mission Dispensaries, which is a medical marijuana dispensary in five states. Ten different locations, but what we do for them is take what they’re trying to do and educate veterans. I’m not trying to sell veterans cannabis. I don’t care if they do it or use it. I don’t. I’m not trying to say I’m too much of a sicker fan or I’m too much of a salesman. I didn’t want to be a salesman at all, but what I wanted to do is educate them, and make sure they knew. Particularly as we’re sitting here in the in the throes of an opioid epidemic, not only in America writ large, but specifically in the veteran community. And I’ve seen veterans, my shipmates, my friends who are dealing with chronic pain and with anxiety, and with PTS and with myriad issues that the military health system only knows one way to adjudicate, and that’s with an opioid. And I just think there are other options out there for that.

BROWN: Sure.

SCHOFIELD: So, it means a lot for me to chase advocacy opportunities, to not only communicate for a company like Boeing, but also then communicate for veterans about something as really nuanced and difficult as medicinal cannabis. You want to talk about political issue, that is a political issue.

BROWN: Right.

SCHOFIELD: So, it’s neat. It’s fun and I wouldn’t be able to do it – not to sound corny like I’m trying to wrap it – but I wouldn’t have been able to do it without what I learned here at Villanova. I wouldn’t have been able to do it without the adversity I saw in the Navy, without the public affairs training I had in the Navy, which complimented the training I got as a public speaker in Blue Key, which is all wrapped together with all the failures I saw not only as a high schooler and as a collegiate, but as a professional, as an adult, as a parent. So, cobbling together all of those failures, and all those experiences allows you to walk into a room and talk to a Vice President of a major conglomerate like Boeing, going through their own problems with 737, and then turn around and have a meeting with a very eclectic audience like the medicinal cannabis world. You know, you kind of have to tell them things like three or four times, there’s some short-term memory issues there, but it’s neat. I love it.

BROWN: I think in hearing your story, some of the themes that I heard were failures led to, for you, other opportunities that you took advantage of and really grabbed it by the horns. And who would have thought after failing class after class in Mendel Hall that you’d be a professor at the Naval Academy. You know, I bet your professor who was the chair of the department would never have guessed, “Well, he’s cut out for being a professor himself someday.”

SCHOFIELD: I emailed him, and I wish I would have kept the email, but when I was selected for commander, and in the navy when you first get commissioned, you become an ensign, and then you make lieutenant junior grade. It’s failed or complete, you make that regardless. Then it’s maybe a tiny bit more selective to make the next rank, which is lieutenant, a little bit more selective to make lieutenant commander. But when it really starts becoming tough to get selected for rank is at the levels of commander and lieutenant commander. When I found out I made commander, which is essentially your guarantee that you’re gonna make it to 20 years, I emailed Dr. Hones and said, “Hey, I don’t know if you remember me back in ’95, ’96. I was one of your students. It was a grind, I failed physics multiple times.” It should not surprise you, he was like, “Oh, I totally remember him.” And I just said, “I’m not looking to like toot my own horn here, but I just wanted to let you know that I did okay.” Like, “I made it. And I know that I tried your patience. I know that it was a grind, but I just wanted to let you know I was just selected for commander. I’m now in charge of the Navy School for public affairs at Fort Meade, and I just wanted to thank you for sticking with me.” And that – I didn’t write that to anyone at West Point. I didn’t write that to my dad. I didn’t write that to, and again, I’m not just trying to make this convenient for the Villanova conversation, but it meant a lot to me to make sure that someone who was part of this community knew that the community saved me. And he is part of that community that saved me.

BROWN: Sure.

SCHOFIELD: Because if I would have failed that last time with him, it was done. I would have lost my scholarship. I don’t know what I would have done. I certainly couldn’t have afforded to stay here. So, it meant a lot for me to come back and tell someone at Villanova and through that person, Villanova writ large, what they did to make me the person of character and consequence I hope I am now.

BROWN: Yeah, I agree. I think the other thing that I heard was that you being a Blue Key here at Villanova, I think you were a Blue Key your whole life.


BROWN: I think it just kept coming up, and that it’s something you’re passionate about, is you’re not literally giving guided tours, but you’re giving guided tours for whatever it is. A process or a procedure or you know, the helicopter failure, and why you know. That’s what I think I heard that you were a Blue Key here, but you’ve been a Blue Key ever since.

SCHOFIELD: It really did. It affected me a great deal and again, there’s another name that I’ll never forget, but our rep who was in the admissions office at the time, and she’s still there now. It was a woman named Carolyn Westermann Defant. Carolyn Defant, and I want her to know if she ever hears, how much she affected us. She loved Blue Key, like with every fiber of her being. And she and the Director of Admissions at the time, and I think he’s passed away now, Steve Merit, empowered us to go out and throw our personality at that. And yes, they gave us talking points, which we do as public relations officers in our jobs. We give them talking points, but they really empowered us to go out and make it whatever we wanted it to be and to really own those tours and make them fun. And I loved it, and you know, ask my son over there, I can be loquacious, this particular interview as an example. He’ll usually just put his headphones in. But I learned such a great deal from Villanova, both academically but morally and that’s where Blue Key really stuck to me that the friends we made in Blue Key Society. The relationships we kept, the challenges we faced, and then the ability to advocate on behalf of this university to scores of people. I don’t know what the admissions rate was for people that we actually talked to, but I’d have to think that each Blue Key Society member played a role in at least 75 to 85 percent of admissions of people in that time group.

BROWN: Sure.

SCHOFIELD: You know, I mean, they were probably going to apply and get in anyway, but what if their tours sucked? What if it was a terrible tour? What if it was a bad experience? What if I just wasn’t feeling it that day because I got another 17 on my physics test, which I got once? No matter how bad your day was, you had other Blue Keyers there to like pick you up and motivate you to give a good tour.

BROWN: Sure, and before we wrap up, I want to ask you a question I usually ask everyone: if someone were to approach you, and let’s just use an example of your son here who’s sitting here with us. If he were to approach you and say, “You know dad, I’m thinking about joining the military.” What would be your response to that?

SCHOFIELD: I would say that you have to make an educated decision, and you have to know exactly what you want, but you have to also throw a little bit of caution to the wind. You have to, again, I’m not saying that someone should join the military the same way I came to Villanova, sight unseen, having never been on campus, you know just making a leap of faith so to speak. But you need to understand what’s out there, that life in the military is very difficult. If you are an enlisted person in the Navy, or the military anywhere, it’s a much, much harder life. It’s an extremely hard life. If you have the ability to seek out an officer program, please do if for nothing else just that the pay is better, thus you have more flexibility. So, you need to be educated about what’s out there, but you need to also understand that there is something incredibly satisfying. As I sit back and evaluate the totality of my life, there is something so satisfying in knowing that you gave more of yourself to a common cause. And people do it, you know Father Peter has done it with you know the Augustinian Order. There are people who give their lives to the Peace Corps, or to any number of causes. To feel like I gave 20 years of service to my country and played a role in the defense of my country, it allows me to – this might be dumb – but it makes me feel like I can walk taller some days when the world is kind of kicking me around. You get a flat tire, you know you’re just you’re having a bad day, you look back and you say, “Well, you know what, I have that. I did that.” And it wasn’t about me. At first it was about me. I joined ROTC so that I could pay for college. Yes, it was a means to reach a desired end, but in the end, it became about the flag. It became about my shipmates. It became about the ship. It became about the mission. And I’ll never dissuade someone from doing it. Ever. The same way I’d never dissuade anyone from coming to Villanova.

BROWN: Well, sure. Well, I appreciate you being here today. I hope you find some value in doing this.

SCHOFIELD: [laughs] You think, like this is, I might be back tomorrow.

BROWN: All right.

SCHOFIELD:  I’ll just make up a whole new life story.

BROWN: [laughs] Well, we’ll fit you in. No, but I really appreciate you coming by and bringing your son. I think, hopefully you know, he might not find value in it today, but I think eventually he will find the value in hearing his dad talk about his life.

SCHOFIELD: I appreciate it. This was his first-time seeing campus, and I hope it’s the first of many times.

BROWN: Well, good, and thanks for being a part of this project. We will talk to you soon.

SCHOFIELD: All right. Thanks, Michael.

BROWN (OUTRO): That concludes this installment of the Voices of Villanova’s Veterans, a joint project of the Villanova University Office of Veterans and Military Servicemembers and Falvey Memorial Library’s Distinctive Collections and Digital Engagement departments. Thank you for listening. For more information and to listen to more interviews, please visit us online at

[1] Blue Key serves as tour guides to prospective students and help organize the open houses and Admitted Students Day hosted on campus each year.

[2] Inaudible phrase.

[3] Thousand.

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