Soldier to Teacher

Mr.Ruge’s Journey from Submarine to Classroom

Ryliegh Martin , Writer, Editor

A soldier once said that the military wasn’t for everyone. A teacher said working hard to achieve status among those who serve their country is an accomplishment. 

Dana Ruge, a commissioned officer with the rank of Ensign (junior rank), retired as a Lieutenant. He worked hard, achieving eligibility into the United States Naval Academy or USNA. Though he claims “the process took almost a year to get everything done” to be accepted, it was worth it; being able to follow in his father’s footsteps. 

“In the end, I received nominations from my state representatives to all three service academies,” Ruge said. “I chose USNA because my dad had served in the navy and I felt there were better opportunities for me at that academy following graduation.”

Likewise, Ruge enjoyed his job, understanding with it that some things people have to give up. Such as family dinners, birthdays, graduations and holidays. It wasn’t too difficult for him, however, to make the change. As Military life came smoothly to him, the structure of the academy was possible to ease into. Though he still holds out a tough question to those who look to become part of the system. 

“I would definitely say that the military is not for everyone. Before considering joining any branch of military, ask yourself why you want to join,” Ruge said. “For those who do decide it might be a good fit for them, I believe the military offers a great career opportunity. You will receive some great training and experience that will also benefit you after you leave the military.”

In addition, Ruge found some difficulty in the transition from high school to the academy in terms of work, structure and timeliness. Having to juggle the school work and the military training had a stressful limit. 

“I would say the hardest thing for me at the Naval Academy was actually learning how to study and manage my time,” Ruge said. “The classes in high school seemed very easy for me…I graduated high school as the Valedictorian and never saw a B grade on any report card. At the Naval Academy, the classes were extremely high level. Also, we had to balance out time doing military training and also playing sports.”

As it turns out, Ruge didn’t know at first if he wanted to work on nuclear submarines, until he got selected for the Navy’s nuclear power program. He was really working on being accepted and managing time. His senior year was when he decided after a night of service selection to work on the submarines rather than ships. 

“We had to travel to Washington DC and take a four-hour written test, then have several interviews as part of the admission process for nuclear power. That process happening during the first half of senior year,” Ruge said. “When I returned from Christmas break for second-semester classes, I found out I was accepted into the program and then chose Nuclear Submarines at service selection night.”

During his time serving, he traveled a lot. His first two years were spent stationed in Panama City, Florida for five months to qualify as a navy driver. Then another six months in Orlando, Florida for school. Doing hands-on training shortly after for another six months up in Idaho. Finally, after 3 more months, he ended up being assigned to his first submarine. 

“I spent three months in Groton, Connecticut at submarine school, then finally was assigned to my first submarine in Bremerton, Washington,” Ruge said. “I served on that submarine for one year in Washington and then we did a change of port to Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. I stayed the next eight years in Hawaii on two other submarines.”

(Oftentimes, everything was classified. Even the enlisted crew wouldn’t know where they were going).

Ending his career in service, after eleven years, Ruge became a manufacturer manager/Plant Engineer in three different plants. Shortly after choosing his present job, being a teacher. He’s been a teacher now for about 18 years. During both careers outside of the naval academy, he has continued to apply his military training to everyday life. 

“I have always enjoyed teaching others how to do things,” Ruge said. “On submarines, there is a constant turnover of new sailors and officers coming aboard. I really liked showing the new officers and enlisted sailors how the various equipment worked and how to fix things when they broke. My jobs in manufacturing were very similar, in that, I had the opportunity to train all the employees on the new equipment and procedures.”

In addition, he stresses commitment and hard work on those looking to go through the same or similar, process he’s gone through. Claiming that above all, there will always “be such a deep appreciation for all the men and women who are willing to serve in our armed forces” in his heart.