I was born and raised in Northern Kentucky, a suburb of Cincinnati. After high school, I tried college for a couple of years, but lacked focus and money to finish. So, I left Northern Kentucky to enlist in the Navy and see the world.
The Navy sent me to Monterey, California to study Russian for a couple of years and then also sent me to Goodfellow Air Force Base in San Angelo Texas for some additional training. My first assignment was in Sinop, Turkey. It was a small Army base right on the Black Sea that the U.S. shared with the Turks. My rating in the Navy was Cryptologic Technician, Interpretive (CTI). That basically meant I was a Russian linguist. My job there required a Top Secret clearance, so I won’t go into too much detail here about what I did. This 1981 article from the New York Times says that the mission at Sinop was “to conduct communications activities” and for “observation and control of the opposite bloc” with an emphasis on “technical and economic as well as military developments.” That sounds about right, considering Sinop is located right on the Black Sea, due south of the Crimean Peninsula. I was there for about a year – January 1989 to January 1990.
After some training back in the States in 1990, I was stationed at the Naval Base in Rota Spain. There I was due to start riding ships in the Mediterranean Sea, doing what Russian linguists might be expected to do in that part of the world. I don’t actually know from first hand experience what those linguists do, though, because my tour in Spain was cut short for another assignment.
After a trip to England for an interview, I was selected to go back to Monterey for an eight month course designed for Russian linguists destined to work at the On Site Inspection Agency (OSIA). That agency was responsible for the Department of Defense aspects of several arms control treaties, including the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START), Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF), Threshold Test Ban Treaty (TTBT), and the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE). OSIA was later rolled into the much larger Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA). At OSIA, I was an interpreter on teams that conducted U.S. inspections in Russia and escorted Russian teams on inspections in the U.S. under the START, INF, and TTBT treaties.
While I was at OSIA, I spent about 5 weeks in Archangelsk, Russia and the surrounding area in conjunction with Operation Provide Hope, which was a humanitarian operation conducted by the Air Force where we provided tons (literally) of food and medical supplies to various locations in the former Soviet Union in order to assist their transition to capitalism.
While I was on active duty in the Navy, I worked to finish college in a non-traditional fashion, using the educational opportunities provided by the Navy. After I finished my enlistment in 1994, I used the GI Bill to go to law school back in Northern Kentucky and received my Juris Doctor (J.D.) from Salmon P. Chase College of Law at Northern Kentucky University. I followed that with a year at the University of Houston Law Center where I was the International Law Institute Fellow and received my Master of Laws (LL.M.) in International Economic Law. Interesting side note: after doing a search online, it appears that UH no longer has an International Law Institute. I feel pretty certain that my tenure there had nothing to do with that fact. But I make no promises. Interesting side note #2: you can still find my thesis online, since I was fortunate enough to have it published in the Loyola Law School International and Comparative Law Review in 1999. The topic is quite obsolete, since it was about power sharing treaties in Russia immediately after the break up of the former Soviet Union. But, if you’re into that stuff, it’s a pretty interesting piece of history. Ask me about it some time.
After Houston, I worked for a year as an attorney in the federal government in Jacksonville, Florida at the Office of Hearings and Appeals for the Social Security Administration. After that, I was selected to become a member of the Air Force Judge Advocate General’s Corps (JAG). I served 12 years in the Air Force (after 8 years in the Navy), so I retired as a Major and retired from the military at the 20 year point.
As an Air Force JAG, I was stationed at Whiteman AFB, Missori; Tyndall AFB, Florida; Vandenberg AFB, California; Yokota AB, Japan; Bolling AFB, Washington, DC; and Andrews AFB, Maryland. In 2007, I deployed to al Udeid AB, Qatar, where I was a Judge Advocate at the Combined Air Operations Center. At al Udeid, it was my job to review deliberate and time sensitive targets in the CENTCOM Area of Responsibility and to review Rules of Engagement (ROE) in Iraq and Afghanistan. In 2010, I deployed to Baghdad and worked as a Senior Trial Counsel, including work in support of the mission at Camp Cropper.
After I retired from the military in 2012, I went to work for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) in Washington, DC. I worked in the Consumer Response division as an Investigator and Team Lead helping consumers with their complaints against mortgage servicing companies, credit card companies, credit bureaus and debt collectors.
I left Washington, DC in 2015 and moved to Knoxville, Tennessee to be with the love of my life – Susan Beth Frommeyer, nee Harrison. We originally met in college way back in 1986, right before I left for the Navy. We had our near misses in the 80’s, 90’s, and 00’s, but I finally did what I should have done almost 30 years earlier and I asked her to marry me. She said yes and now we have a life together in Knoxville.
We’re a true blended family, in that we both have kids from previous marriages. My son, Zach, is a Freshman at the University of Tennessee here in Knoxville. He’s studying Sports Management. My step-daughter, Bethany, is in 5th grade at Blue Grass Elementary. She will attend West Valley Middle School next year and, eventually, Bearden High School.
Susan earned her medical degree at the University of Louisville School of Medicine in 1997. After that she completed her obstetrics and gynecology residency at the University of Tennessee Graduate School of Medicine in Knoxville. Susan is an Air Force veteran and has lived in East Tennessee since 2003. She is a fellow of the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology and is a practicing partner at Fort Sanders Women’s Specialists.