Where are they now? Daryle Cardone GNA ’89

Harley LaRue, Student Writer and Editor

Daryle Cardone is a 1989 GNA graduate who is now a Prospective Executive Officer of the Navy. After graduating from high school, Cardone went on to Wilkes University to earn a Bachelor of Music Education. He also holds a Masters of Arts in National Security and Strategic Studies from the Naval War College. He received his commission through the Officer Candidate School program in December of 1995. In addition, he has also graduated from the Navy Weapons Fighter School (TOPGUN), an Air Intercept Controller course, and the Carrier Airborne Early Warning Weapons School (CAEWWS). He is currently in Charleston, South Carolina attending the Navy’s nuclear power school after 21 years of service. Overall, Officer Cardone has over 2,800 flight hours, has made over 700 carrier-arrested landings, and has flown more than 120 combat missions during his career.

While at Nanticoke, CDR Cardone was involved in athletics during his freshman and sophomore years. He played both baseball and basketball. When he wasn’t playing sports, he enjoyed math, history, biology, and music. During his junior year, he discovered his love for the electric guitar and Eddie Van Halen and went on to graduate from Wilkes University in the field of Music Education. While at Wilkes, the United States Navy offered him an opportunity he couldn’t turn down — the chance to fly from an aircraft carrier. Cardone didn’t need any more convincing to join the Navy, putting on hold his career with music. When The GNA Insider talked with Commander Cardone, he told us, “I like to joke that I am a musician turned aviation nuclear officer. I have been studying heavy metal my entire life, though these days it’s more about the periodic table than Metallica.” Cardone wasn’t the first in his family to join the armed forces. His father and many of his uncles served in the military during both World War II and the Korean War. Throughout CDR Cardone’s career, there have been many highlights of which he is proud. He is privileged enough to work with America’s youth every day and has even broken the sound barrier. He is a highly decorated officer, having won many awards including the Defense Superior Service Medal and the Meritorious Service Medal. Cardone has been to 5 continents and over 20 countries during his career. He also had the privilege to be in command of an aviation squadron. Although Cardone is extremely proud of all of his accomplishments while in the Navy, he believes that group accomplishments are more rewarding.

In high school, who was your favorite teacher? What was your favorite class?

My favorite teacher was Mr. Carey’s dad, Jim Carey, who taught me history. I also enjoyed being in class with Mr. Greytok, who taught biology, Mr. Cooper, who taught music, and Mr. Bavitz, who taught math.

What is your biggest piece of advice for GNA students?

These next 5-10 years of your life are where you discover what you want your life to be about. My biggest piece of advice f or GNA students is to invest the time to find a problem worth solving, decide to do something about it, then go after it with everything you’ve got. That problem could be local to your neighborhood, your city, or it could be global. What you do about it could improve the lives of two people or two billion, so choose something that matters.

What was TOPGUN like?

Attending the Navy Fighter Weapons School, better known as TOPGUN, was an amazing experience. It was 10 weeks of total dedication to tactical excellence in the air. It began with intense focus on fundamentals, the formation of a winning game plan, a winning attitude, and championship habit patterns. In other words, it was like playing GNA sports.

What was breaking the sound barrier like? Would you consider it a highlight of your career?

As air intercept controllers, Hawkeye aircrew work very closely with the fighter pilots in our carrier air wings. That integration includes familiarization flights in each others’ aircraft. On my second deployment, I flew in the backseat of an F-14 Tomcat from the USS GEORGE WASHINGTON. We did some air combat maneuvering (dog fighting), got some gas from an airborne tanker, and then the pilot said, “do you want to break the number?” (as in Mach number), which is what we call the speed of sound in military aviation. I said, “heck yeah!” He hit the afterburners and shortly thereafter we were above Mach 1. I thought something momentous was going to happen, but inside the jet, it’s a little anti-climactic since the accompanying sonic boom can’t travel fast enough to keep up with the jet. I consider it a notable moment.

What is life on an aircraft carrier like? Do you enjoy it?

Aircraft Carriers are floating cities complete with their own zip code, post office, airport, power plant, hospital, dental facility, convenience stores, jail, and even their own Starbucks. When stood up on their stern, they would stand as tall as the Empire State Building in New York City and are home to 5,000 Sailors and 70 combat aircraft when fully manned during deployment. My job as the Executive Officer will be as the #2 officer in command of the ship, which is a cross between city manager and assistant principal. I really enjoy flying and leading Sailors, but everyone misses home while they’re deployed. I especially miss the pizza from Nanticoke and all of the polish food like pierogies and potato pancakes.

Has anything or anyone inspired you throughout your career?

Growing up, my father was my biggest inspiration. He was the hardest working person I’ve ever met. In addition to teaching full time at Northwest High School, he owned and operated Marty’s Pizza in Nanticoke for almost 45 years before he retired and sold the business. From him, I learned how to develop a strong work ethic, to never settle for less than your best, and to treat the people you work with like family. That has served me well in the Navy. I am also inspired by the thousands of service members who have given their lives in the service of our great country during the last 15 years of conflict. I’ve been specifically inspired by LT Steve Zilberman, who was a squadron mate who sacrificed his life for the safety of 3 of his friends who were in the plane with him. Google his story, he’s a true hero.

In your email, you stated that you are proud to work with America’s youth every day. How do you do this?

The highlight of my career has been the privilege of working with some of the greatest people I’ve ever met who volunteer to wear the cloth of our nation, who go to far away places to do hard things for not a lot of pay without the comforts of home or family to ensure the country stays safe and secure.

All photos courtesy of Daryle Cardone.