Rear Admiral Tilghman Payne received his commission from the U.S. Naval Academy. Afloat he served on USS Richard L. Page (FFG 5), USS Elrod(FFG 55), USS Robert G. Bradley (FFG 49), Destroyer Squadron 6, Cruiser Destroyer Group 2, and executive officer on USS Kiska (AE 35). He also commanded USS Nicholas (FFG 47).
Assignments ashore include: the Naval Postgraduate School, action officer on the staff of the chief of naval operations (N86); National Defense University, military advisor to director, Operational Test and Evaluation in the Office of the Secretary of Defense; commanding officer, Fleet Activities, Sasebo, Japan; and, executive assistant to the assistant secretary of the Navy (Energy, Installations & Environment). Payne's prior assignment was commander, Navy Region Midwest.
His personal awards include the Defense Superior Service Medal, Legion of Merit (three awards), Meritorious Service Medal (two awards), Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal (six awards) and the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal (two awards).
Payne is currently serving as U.S. Defense representative Guam, Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, and Republic of Palau; as commander, U.S. Naval Forces Marianas; and as commander, Joint Region Marianas.