Mike Townsend

Life's Journey --  QMC Townsend, USN, American Hero

   My journey this week took me to Quartermaster Chief Petty Officer (retired) Mike Townsend, a veteran and 1973 graduate of San Marcos High School. He served 24 years in the United States Navy. Eighteen of those years in the Submarine Service. Leaving home and going from the routine of a safe place into the unknown, Mike Townsend raised his right hand and enlisted in 1974. He had to say goodbye to family and friends. Can you imagine his feelings, as he departed San Marcos alone, fresh out of high school, to answer the call of the sea as a sailor?             
   Becoming a veteran is a rite of passage that often requires new experiences accompanied by anxiety and fear. My brother, Lee, a veteran, is a case in point. "Jim," he said, "the first airplane I was ever a passenger on was at the United States Army Airborne Training Center. Equipped with a parachure, I jumped out of it." Talk about being scared and elated!
   After several years, Townsend volunteered and was accepted for the Naval Submarine School in Groton, CT. 

On completion of the intense schooling required to serve on nuclear powered submarines, graduated in 1982.  He then served sixteen years in the all volunteer submarine force. Great is their responsibility and sacrifice while keeping the peace. They spend long months at a time under the sea separated from their loved ones. Chief Townsend's run of over 16 straight years serving aboard subs based in San Diego is a modern day record which is likely never to be broken. Among awards and decorations he has earned, of special note, are two Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medals. 
    From his retirement ceremony citation .... "Chief Townsend is a consummate professional who is recognized as one of the most talented and experienced navigators in the submarine fleet.  While assigned to the USS Jefferson City (SSN 759)  a nuclear powered attack sub with Tomahawk Cruise missiles onboard, he safely piloted the ship over 60,000 nautical miles .  . much of this distance while submerged in shallow water and in other areas with great navigational dangers. 

 Chief Townsends's superior abilities and dedication were recognized by the award of  Submarine Squadron 11 Green and Red, "N" in 1997. This honor is awarded to the submarine which demonstrates the greatest proficiency in navigation." This man is an American hero.
    His faith was honed by his mother. His life verse is from Psalm 23. . . 'even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil, for you are with me.'
   Since his retirement in 1998, he has continued public service with the California State Department of Corrections. He has been married for 36 years and has one daughter and one grandchild. His mother, Bell Townsend, a local icon with 39 years as Director of the Community Action Head Start Program, is very proud of all her son's achievements.


 Brother Jim Lanning -- San Marcos Daily Record, 23 October 2016