Tuesday, December 12, 2017

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Admiral Scott Swift speaks to sailors assigned to the Pacific Surface Action Group aboard the USS Momsen. (Credit: U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Brian M. Wilbur/Released) Admiral Scott Swift speaks to sailors assigned to the Pacific Surface Action Group aboard the USS Momsen. (Credit: U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Brian M. Wilbur/Released)
 


A Homecoming for SDSU’s Homecoming Honorary Chair

Admiral Scott Swift ('79), commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet, is the honorary chair of Homecoming 2016.
By Tobin Vaughn
 

San Diego State University Homecoming week is set for Oct. 30 through Nov. 5, and returning to Montezuma Mesa as honorary chair for the festivities is Admiral Scott Swift (’79), commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet.

Swift will serve as keynote speaker for the 20th annual War Memorial wreath-laying ceremony at 9:30 a.m. on Nov. 4 at Aztec Green. He will also be introduced at the Nov. 5 homecoming football game where the Aztecs take on the University of Hawaii Rainbow Warriors.

In his role as commander, Swift is based in Hawaii where he oversees more than $500 billion in Pacific Fleet assets, a $12-billion budget and approximately 140,000 sailors. He views his role as being similar to serving as a big-city mayor or a big-state governor, only with the added responsibility of defending the nation.

The aviator

Swift and his siblings grew up in San Diego. His father had a 24-year career in the U.S. Navy, then spent another 25 years working at SDSU.

The admiral said he came to the university unsure of what he wanted to study, but soon developed an interest in aviation. He decided to work toward a degree in industrial arts because it was the closest he could get to an engineering degree without having to spend five years earning it.

“It was a lot of the same math and a lot of the same physics,” Swift said.

After completing college, Swift received his Navy commission through the Aviation Reserve Officer Candidate program, launching a successful career that included assignment to the Pentagon and participation in combat Operations Praying Mantis, Southern Watch, Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom.

He has also been recognized as the Commander, Naval Air Forces, U.S. Pacific Fleet Landing Signal Officer of the Year; was presented the Commander Michael G. Hoff Award as the U.S. Pacific Fleet Attack Aviator of the year; and is entitled to wear the Distinguished Service Medal, Defense Superior Service Medal, Legion of Merit, Bronze Star, Meritorious Service Medal, and Air Medal with Combat V, along with other personal, unit and service awards.

Accessing opportunities

Swift said his time at SDSU taught him to seek and make the most of opportunities. He believes education is a gift that enables access to existing opportunities.

“Too often, we think of opportunities as being presented to us as opposed to opportunities that are out there that we need to take advantage of,” he said. “That is certainly true of my educational experience at San Diego State as well as my experiences in the Navy.”

One of his most significant lessons, the admiral recalled, was never a part of any course curriculum: the importance of maintaining strong relationships.

“What I do is build relationships and that's what I learned from San Diego State,” Swift said. “The most important part of any relationship is trust and it's also the most perishable. If you are not building it, then it is decaying.”

Change and growth

The admiral said he is looking forward to his return to campus. It has been a while since his last visit.

"I want to see how it has changed,” he said. “I think, as a rule, as human beings we don't like change, but I think change is a very healthy thing. I think that's part of the positive experiences that I still carry with me from my campus experience at San Diego State.”