Vice Admiral, U.S. Navy Director, Naval Air Systems Command
CLASS OF 1970
Vice Admiral Walter B. Massenburg, head of the Naval Air Systems Command, is a vital part of keeping the U.S. Navy in top fighting condition and working as a team—something he learned at W&J.
In high school, Massenburg hoped to attend the U.S. Naval Academy, but when it was time to begin his higher education, another institution offered him admission—Washington & Jefferson College. He continued to pursue his dream of attending the Naval Academy, but when it came calling during his freshman year, it was too late. He had fallen in love with W&J and stayed, majoring in physics and serving as equipment manager for the basketball team, an experience he credits with teaching him the importance of teamwork and the realization that everyone on a team is important. “The most important thing that I learned at W&J was how to be a leader and how to deal with relationships,” he says. He remembers basketball coach David Scarborough as his chief mentor.
When he left W&J, Massenburg became a P-3 pilot, serving in numerous squadrons. In 1995, he assumed command of the Maritime Surveillance Aircraft Program Office and, in 2003, he was given the task of leading the Naval Air Systems Command, where he works with approximately 27,000 civilians, 9,000 contractors, and 3,000 military personnel. In this role, Massenburg is in charge of providing cost-efficient readiness and dominant maritime power as well as improving the integration and effectiveness of the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps. He guides his team well because he learned it from the bottom up, building on the foundation he gained at W&J.
Massenburg’s achievements range from a place in Baltimore City College High School’s Hall of Fame to The Society of Logistics Engineers Founders Award to the Alumni Achievement Award from W&J. His numerous military decorations include the Legion of Merit with two gold stars, the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, the Meritorious Service Medal, and the Navy Commendation Medal with two gold stars. However, he says his greatest achievement is helping to create a safe environment for U.S. citizens and citizens of the world.