USC Alumni Discover Common Roots At 20,000 ft

Story Number: NNS060603-03Release Date: 6/3/2006 3:36:00 PM
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By Journalist 1st Class (SW) Joaquin Juatai, USS Abraham Lincoln Public Affairs

USS ABRAHAM LINCOLN, At Sea (NNS) -- Two Naval Aviators flying an airborne early warning patrol over the South China Sea discovered they had common roots, May 8.

The two University of South Carolina (USC) alumni were Rear Adm. Bill Goodwin, commander of Carrier Strike Group (CSG) 9 embarked aboard USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) and Lt. Cmdr. T. Michael Santomauro, operations officer in Airborne Early Warning Squadron (VAW) 116

"We started talking about Columbia and I asked him, 'how do you know so much about South Carolina'?" said Goodwin. "He said, 'well, sir, I understand you graduated from USC in '75. I graduated in '93'."

Both Goodwin and Santomauro were Midshipmen in USC's Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps (NROTC) program. NROTC gave each of them a direction, both educational and career-wise, that has benefited both to this day.

"Navy ROTC is one of the best deals going," said Goodwin. "With the scholarship portion, it's four years of education. You return that education with service to your country.

"The ROTC scholarship is an academically awarded scholarship. It's not based on your financial situation. You are the person who earns the scholarship through your academics."

"It's a great opportunity," said Santomauro. "My parents had no means to send me to college. I earned a four-year degree out of high school, based on my merits in high school.

"I earned a regular commission in the Navy," added Santmauro. "It's something I wanted to do anyway, but the ROTC unit provided me an opportunity I wouldn't have had otherwise."

According to Goodwin, the naval legacy of USC is felt throughout the Navy. Rear Adm. (Ret.) Jacob Schuford, class of '74, was also commander of CSG 9. Goodwin commanded USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76); a classmate of his, Capt. Dave Logsdon, commanded USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75).

"South Carolina has a long-standing tradition of producing naval officers who have served our country very well, whether it was four years or more than four years," said Goodwin.

"It's funny," said Santomauro. "A lot of the guys I knew in classes before or after me are still in the Navy. They're in the E-2 and C-2 (both aircraft are based on the same airframe) community and they're still in the Navy.

"You tend to keep running into people [from USC] in this career."

For both, the education begun at USC continued after their time at the school. Goodwin, who majored in computer science, holds two additional master's degrees, one from the Naval War College and one from the Naval Post Graduate School. Santomauro holds a Master's in Aerospace Engineering.

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