(NEWPORT NEWS, Va.) — Mike Petters, president and CEO of Huntington Ingalls Industries, was presented with the United States Navy Memorial's Lone Sailor Award on Thursday. The Navy Memorial presented the award during the annual Lone Sailor Awards dinner at the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C.
The Lone Sailor Award is given to sea service veterans who have excelled with distinction in their respective careers during or after their military service. Other recipients this year included retired Adm. James S. Gracey, the 17th commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard; J. William Middendorf II, former ambassador to the Netherlands, former secretary of the Navy and Navy veteran; and Robert S. Morrison, retired vice chairman of PepsiCo, former chairman and CEO of Quaker Oats, and U.S. Marine Corps veteran.
The tribute to Petters was given by Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John M. Richardson, who, along with retired Vice Adm. John Totushek, presented him with the award. Totushek is president and CEO of the U.S. Navy Memorial Foundation.
"Talk to the people Mike grew up with, or anybody at Huntington Ingalls Industries, and they will tell you that he respects the people who work for him and always makes sure to learn from them," Richardson said. "He is committed to principles, especially integrity and character. … His generosity, humility, leadership and compassion are legendary, and I am so thrilled that he is getting this award."
Both Richardson and Petters attended the U.S. Naval Academy and graduated in 1982.
In his remarks after accepting the award, Petters said one of his elementary school teachers told him that being an American meant, "I can." "Later in life," he explained, "the Navy's standards for honor, courage and commitment became an aspiration to me and central to my ambitions, and suddenly being American became more about 'we can,' whether it was what we can do to solve asymmetrical national conflicts or the need to provide pre-school education for all children in America."
Petters served aboard the nuclear-powered submarine USS George Bancroft (SSBN 643) while in the Navy and spent five years in the U.S. Naval Reserve. He joined Newport News Shipbuilding in 1987 and worked in the Los Angeles-class submarine construction division. He held a number of increasingly responsible positions throughout the organization, including production supervisor for submarines, marketing manager for submarines and carriers, vice president of aircraft carrier programs, vice president of contracts and pricing, and vice president of human resources. Petters also served as president of Northrop Grumman's Newport News sector and as president of Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding prior to becoming president and CEO of HII when it became a publicly traded, independent company in March 2011.