The following are excerpts taken from www.captainmikepenn.com and used with permission.
• Distinguished Flying Cross
• Bronze Star with Comabt “V”
• POW Medal
• Air Medal with Combat “V”
• Navy Commendation Medal with Combat “V”
• Military Order of the Purple Heart (2)
Mike Penn worked his way through college playing in a rock band, and worked full time as a police officer. His goal was to fly a jet fighter in the United States Navy, land on an aircraft carrier, and fly faster than the speed of sound. For Mike Penn, flying the A-4 Skyhawk, A-7E Corsair II, and the F-4J Phantom, exceeded his goals.
At an early age, military airports in Texas were like magnets, drawing Mike Penn to every air show his father would attend. Mike began the pursuit of his dreams and vowed to let nothing stop him from “driving” one of these wonderful fighter machines in the future. Working many jobs, including everything from department stores, gas stations, janitor, auto worker, to rock band and full time police officer in Ft. Worth, he attended college full time. A college degree is a prerequisite for selection as a Naval Aviator, and nothing else would suffice. Mike learned then, as is paramount in Naval Fighter Aviation, “there are no points for second place”.
Officer and pilot training constantly emphasized strict attention to detail, professionalism, leadership, desire, enthusiasm, teamwork, and positive energy. These points are detailed in Mike’s presentation, as he shows the relationship between them and a successful individual, team, and company.
His formal education includes a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science, but his 8 months in the “Hanoi Hilton” gave him a Masters in survival, honor, attitude, humility, service, choices, faith, belief, and life and death.
Spending 9 years of active duty service in the US Navy and 3 in the Navy Reserves, Mike continued to expand his leadership qualities and enjoined all in his association to strive for nothing but the best, period. On August 6, 1972 flying a SAM supression alpha strike mission east of Hanoi his A-7E was hit by a SAM and Mike’s life was changed for what has become the very best. As his presentation relates, if one could get shot down, captured, beaten, and imprisoned in North Vietnam for 8 months and still show and term the experience “an honor to serve”, then the rest of life’s hurdles and barriers become nothing but small stuff.
Leaving the military service in 1978 for the airline world, Mike gave up the original love of his life, the Navy jet fighter, and chose to drive airliners, which allowed him to spend much more time with his family without going on 9- to 11-month cruises onboard aircraft carriers. Early 1990 became a transitional year, which led Mike to Slight Edge Enterprises and the beginning of motivational public speaking. His passion, dedication, faith, humility, and attitude are shown throughout his dialogue, and are constantly compared to our daily lives and corporate initiatives.
His presentations are emotionally charged with showing how ordinary people are capable of extraordinary things. He relates how his dreams initially were clouded, but then resurrected by his attitude, thinking, and choices. Even tenuous, harsh, and evil living conditions cannot prevent communication, teamwork, leadership, conviction and one’s desire to succeed.
Although selected as a Distinguished Naval Graduate in officer and flight training, Top Dive Bomber of all A-7 and A-6 squadrons on the West Coast, Top Carrier Landing Aviator on USS Ranger, Chief Pilot in Houston for Southwest Airlines supervising more than 700 Pilots, and the first military aviator to fly after returning from Vietnam, Mike still considers himself just “Dad” to his 3 children, and “Pop” to his 4 grandchildren.
The Age 60 Rule ended the flying portion of Mike’s airline career, but Southwest Airlines asked him to remain employed in the office as Flight Manager. He does the same job, without flying 737s around any longer. He continues to speak with humor, compassion, enthusiasm, conviction, and constantly attempts to relate his experience to all in attendance, that anyone can achieve their dreams and accomplish their goals through simple, everyday practices and principles of life. Captain Mike Penn currently resides in Houston, Texas, with his wife, JJ.
To learn more of the Mike Penn story visit the Katy Times.