In the summer of 2015, Station HYPO was in its formative stages, emerging from the simple mission statement — “Celebrating the past, present, and future of Navy Cryptology.” As the Station HYPO team was formed, an easy choice to focus on our history was CWO3 Mario Vulcano, USN (Ret).
In all honesty, we couldn’t have done any better! If you are an avid reader of Station HYPO, you know that the majority of our content is focused on celebrating our past. The majority of the lifting in this category has been, and continues to be, Mario. So it is only appropriate that we take a minute to “stop all engines, lay about smartly, and drop anchor to pay homage” to someone who has continued to serve the Navy Cryptologic Community well after his retirement from active duty.
It all started in 1984 when Mario enlisted in the United States Navy as a Cryptologic Technician (Collection). He started out his career overseas as an Intercept Operator and Watch Team Supervisor at Naval Security Group Activity (NSGA) Misawa, Japan. He left there after three years and reported for duty in 1987 as a Direct Support (DIRSUP) operator in beautiful Hawai’i. While serving at NSGA Pearl Harbor, Mario completed three Western Pacific (WESTPAC) deployments as a Collection Operator and Watch Supervisor. In 1991, after four long years of sea duty, Mario transitioned to a much-deserved shore rotation in the National Security Agency / Central Security Service on Fort George G. Meade, Maryland. During his tenure here, he served as a Senior Naval Air Force Analyst at the National SIGINT Operations Center.
Three years later, in 1994, Mario returned to sea duty — this time on permanent change of station (PCS) orders afloat — aboard USS San Jacinto (CG 56). During his three-year tour in San Jacinto, Mario would conduct two Mediterranean/Persian Gulf deployments and would also earn his Enlisted Surface Warfare Specialist (ESWS) designation — a significant milestone in any enlisted man’s career. Now a seasoned, and somewhat salty, Petty Officer First Class, Mario returned to shore duty in 1997 as an instructor at Corry Station in Pensacola, Florida. As the Course Manager and instructor for the Command and Control Tactical Analysis Course (C2TAC), he successfully piloted two courses, was hand selected to assist in developing the curriculum, and qualified as a Master Training Specialist (MTS). It was during this four-year tour that Mario attained a career, and indeed lifetime, achievement — selection as a Chief Petty Officer in the United States Navy!
Like all good Sailors, it was time to return to sea. Mario would do so in an interesting fashion — one year aboard a pre-commissioning unit (PCU) directly followed by four years in an aging cruiser which he would decommission at the end of his tour. In 2001, he reported aboard PCU Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) as the Leading Chief Petty Officer (LCPO) for the Cryptologic and Intelligence Division. During this short stint, Chief Vulcano achieved his next career milestone — commissioning as a Chief Warrant Officer. In 2002, following his commission, CWO2 Vulcano transferred to USS Ticonderoga (CG 47) where he would serve for four years as the ship’s Electronic Warfare Officer (EWO)/Signal Warfare Officer (SIGWO) and Special Security Officer (SSO). During this tour, he also completed the rigorous requirements for, and was designated as, a Surface Warfare Officer (SWO) — no small feat.
Mario’s twilight tour would bring him back to Corry Station in Pensacola, FL where he would finish out his active-duty career as an Instructor and Course Manager. He instructed 112 Senior Enlisted and Officers going to sea as part of the Afloat Cryptologic Management (ACM) course. He also served as a Division Officer responsible for the management of nine Navy courses of instruction. In addition to his primary duties, he coordinated the sheltering and feeding of approximately 1,600 active duty service members and civilians during hurricanes Dennis and Katrina as the Corry Station Base Emergency Manager. At the end of this tour, Mario would retire in 2006 as a Chief Warrant Officer Three (CWO3).
Though Mario had hung up his uniform, he was in no way finished serving his country or his Navy. Over the past eleven years, he has served as a Regional Desk Officer at the U.S. Navy Center for Language Regional Expertise and Culture (CLREC), an instructor for the Ship’s Signal Exploitation Equipment (SSEE) Increment “E” cryptologic suite, and most recently as the Course Manager and Instructor for the Cryptologic Warfare Officer Basic Course (CWOBC). In this capacity, he has instructed, and prepared, more than 1,100 new and lateral accessions into the Cryptologic Warfare Officer community!
Mario’s 33 years of service to his country, the Navy, and the Cryptologic Community has truly been superb. Mario — we are proud to call you a shipmate and proud to serve in the Navy to which you have given so much. Thank you for your commitment to celebrating the past and present of Navy Cryptology and to your daily investment in the future of Navy Cryptology through the shaping and molding of new officers.
Dave and Chuck