Steve Bannon, Trump’s chief strategist and current member of the National Security Council, served in the U.S. navy from 1976 until 1983. His experiences as a naval officer during the Carter administration helped shape his conservative political beliefs and would ultimately cause him to forever turn his back against the democratic party.
Life in the Navy
Steve Bannon graduated from Virginia Tech in 1976 and enlisted in the naval reserve at the age of 24. He received his training at the Navy’s preparation center located in Rhode Island. Once his training was completed, he was placed on the USS Paul F. Foster, an anti-submarine destroyer tasked with trailing and defending aircraft carriers to keep them safe during naval expeditions.
Bannon rose through the ranks of the military at a steady pace. First an ensign, he was promoted to a Lieutenant Junior Officer before becoming a Navigator and a Surface Warfare Officer by 1980. We was regarded warmly by his colleagues. William Keating, Bannon’s roommate for two years, reported that he was a “…a good guy who did his job” and recalled one particular occasion wherein Steve proudly gave up his bed to his father who was visiting him onboard the Foster.
Other shipmates viewed him less favorably. Robin Mickle, a former Navy captain, recalled that Bannon offended members of his crew after informing them that he was only in the navy because “…it would look good on his resume if [I} went into politics.”
Military records indicate that Bannon never experienced any direct warfare; however, he was a firsthand witness to the military buildup accompanying the Carter administration’s failed Iranian hostage rescue mission.
In late November 1979, when the USS Paul F. Foster’s sonar dome was damaged, Steve Bannon, in his capacity as navigator, directed the ship near the Gulf of Guam for repairs. Then, following approximately two months stationed in the area, Bannon linked the USS Paul F. Foster with the USS Nimitz.
The Nimitz, one of the navy’s largest super carriers, was already preparing for the hostage rescue mission. Bannon became a firsthand witness to the military escalation associated with the planned operation. He was ordered to trail the Nimitz right up to the borders of southern Iran before he was given orders to sail back to Pearl Harbor.
Bannon’s Conservativism Takes Shape
On April 24, Bannon and his crew learned that the rescue mission was a failure, resulting in the deaths of eight servicemen. He and his shipmates were reportedly livid at the Carter administration for its perceived role in the botched rescue mission.
The event shattered Bannon’s confidence in President Carter. He would later refer to the experience as a “life defining” moment that caused him to adopt a pro-military stance and increased favorability towards Ronald Reagan. Steve Bannon was so favorably disposed to Raegan that not but a couple months after Reagan won the 1980 Presidential election, Bannon began working for his administration as an assistant at the office of the Chief of Naval Operations located in the Pentagon. For his association to the events surrounding the Iranian hostage situation, Bannon was awarded the Navy Expeditionary Medal in 1981.
Photo of Navy Expeditionary Medal
Steve Bannon furthered his education career by attending Georgetown University pursuing a Master’s degree in National Security. He became more politically active and joined the University’s Toastmaster program as a means of honing his rhetorical style. Bannon received his graduate degree in 1983; however, he was far from done with his formal education. Before graduating the university he informed a close friend and colleague at the Pentagon, Patrick McKim, that he had a vision for the future – that he was going to Harvard to become the Secretary of Defense of the United States.
Bannon has not yet achieved his goal of becoming Secretary of Defense; however, he is currently serving as Chief Strategist to the Trump administration and is currently a member of the National Security Council.