NORFOLK (May 30, 2014) – Members of the U.S. Naval Academy (USNA) Class of 1971 honored a junior officer onboard the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) for her ethics and leadership, May 30.
Lt. Shannon Keuss, who serves as Aircraft Intermediate Maintenance Department (AIMD) Quality Assurance Officer (QAO), received the Ethical Character in Leadership award from members of the USNA Class of ’71. The organization established the award to promote the development of ethical leadership qualities and formally recognize exceptional junior officer performance.
Keuss, a native of Tulsa, Okla., was taken by surprise when she was told she was named the award recipient.
“I did not expect it, but I’m very thankful,” she said following the presentation. “We do have a great wardroom, and anyone could have exhibited the same (characteristics) of this award.”
The USNA Class of ’71 presents the award annually to the junior officer who most exemplifies exceptional ethical leadership, pride, professionalism, and dedication to duty. The USNA Class of ’71 established a unique relationship with TR, which grew from the commonality between the graduation year – 1971 – and the ship’s hull number – CVN 71. Members of the private organization are largely retired officers of the US Navy and Marine Corp who were admitted to the Naval Academy.
Keuss, who reported aboard Theodore Roosevelt in May, 2012, began her Navy career in 1994 when she enlisted in the Navy as an undesignated seaman under the Broadened Opportunity for Officer Selection and Training (BOOST) Program. She was awarded a Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps (NROTC) Scholarship upon completion and attended two semesters at the University of Oklahoma.
Deciding that college was not where she wanted to be, Keuss decided to honor her contract as an enlisted Airman and received orders to VQ-3, Tinker AFB, OK, in 1997. There, she became an Aviation Electrician’s Mate, advancing to 3rd Class Petty Officer. Later, she was meritoriously promoted to 2nd Class via the Command Advancement Program (CAP) and met her husband, Peter, who was also a 2nd Class Petty Officer.
It was not love at first sight for the now husband and wife. In fact, they agree that they fought like cats and dogs when they met and initially worked together.
“I’d say we had opposing styles of leadership,” Peter Keuss said with a laugh. “I was definitely ‘by the book.’ Not that she wasn’t. But she was definitely more of a people person,” Peter Keuss. “But opposites offset each other.”
Moreover, he wasn’t surprised that she received the award.
“She’s a fantastic leader. Everyone who has worked for her loves her. I’m surprised all the time by the sheer number of people who ask her to re-enlist them because they have so much respect for her. I’m very proud of her,” said Peter Keuss.
Over time, Mr. Keuss was accepted into the Seaman to Admiral program and is now a Flight Instructor with Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron TWO in Norfolk.
After assignments with AIMD Norfolk, the KNIGHTHAWKS of VFA-136 at Naval Air Station (NAS) Oceana and the RAMPAGERS of VFA-83, as well as, being promoted to Chief Petty Officer, Mrs. Keussdeployed on the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69) in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. While underway, she was selected to be commissioned as a Limited Duty Officer (LDO).
Other assignments include the FIGHTING CHECKMATES of VFA-211 and the GLADIATORS of VFA-106.
In January 2013, she received her Bachelor of Science in Aeronautics from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.
Off duty, Keuss adeptly balances duty and service to community while she and her husband raise three children. In addition, she is the Treasurer of the Chesapeake United Soccer Club and an active member of Saint Stephen Martyr Catholic Church.
Keuss is the consummate professional, consistently demonstrating the finest qualities of both a resolute leader and compassionate human being, according to her Department Head, Cmdr. Steven Leehe.
“Lt. Keuss embodies the principles of leadership in ethics,” said Leehe, the ship’s Maintenance Officer. “Faith, family and service to country are her trademarks. I never see her out of character because she lives the example she portrays. Our Sailors see that and respect her for it. Not only does she deserve this award, she has earned it. I am very proud of her.”
Members of the USNA Class of ‘71 presented awards to Keuss during an all officers meeting on the ship. During the event, the former Navy officers told current khakis that the keys to successful leadership include being a good person, being inspirational and encouraging their teams.
“Make the folks who work for you feel good about what they are doing, because they are our national treasure. And that’s part of being a leader,” retired Vice Adm. James W. Metzger.
Capt. Daniel Grieco, the ship’s commanding officer, thanked the Class of ’71 members for supporting the ship and sponsoring the award that recognizes one of many outstanding leaders aboard Theodore Roosevelt.
“Shannon is a fantastic officer, but I would be remiss if I did not say…I am blessed as a commanding officer to have an incredible wardroom and Chiefs Mess. There’s not an officer out here that I would not stand behind and tell you that they are ethical leaders and doing a fantastic job in everything that we do,” said Grieco.
As part of the honor, Keuss received a Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal – her fifth in her career, a cash award and a commemorative plaque. Previous award recipients were Lt. Wayne Shipman, who received the honor in 2013, and Lt. Cmdr. Richard Martinez in 2012. Keuss, Shipman and Martinez received the award while assigned to TR’s AIMD.