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NEWS | June 17, 2021

Profiles in Professionalism: Capt. David Salmons

By Navy Emergency Preparedness Liaison Officer Program Public Affairs

NORFOLK — Navy Reserve Capt. David Salmons learned a lot about service from his parents. His mother, a neonatal nurse practitioner, and his father, a Navy Reserve Seabee, both made careers out of serving others and the nation. 

Seeing his parent’s acts of service through their chosen professions made a mark, as he witnessed firsthand their ability to help others overcome some of life’s toughest experiences. 

Salmon’s father joined the military at age 39 because he felt like he missed an opportunity to serve his country during the Vietnam War. Even though he had a master’s degree, he turned down an offer to become an officer. 

“He just really wanted to go work, so he became a heavy equipment operator,” said Salmons. His father served his entire Navy career in the Reserve as Seabee, and was able to finally satisfy his desire to serve when he deployed to Desert Storm.  

For Salmons, his call to service started when he was a teenager after meeting Sailors from his father’s Seabee unit. A chance meeting with his father’s commanding officer, a Naval Academy graduate, peaked his interest in becoming an officer. 

Fast forward to 1994 and Salmons found himself fulfilling a childhood dream as he graduated from the Naval Academy with a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering. He served on active duty for seven years as a surface warfare officer, and after 9/11, followed in his father’s footsteps and transitioned to the Navy Reserve. 

With 27 years of service so far, Salmons isn’t done yet. He continues to walk along the path his parents laid when he was growing up. As a Navy Emergency Preparedness Liaison Officer (NEPLO), part of a community that only exists in the Navy Reserve, Salmons responds to emergencies in the U.S. in order to connect Department of Defense resources in a whole-of-government response to relief efforts. 

“States know what they need,” said Salmons of disaster response, “But they don't always know what help (the military) can provide.” 

Salmons is currently mobilized in Norfolk supporting Defense Support of Civil Authorities at the Community Vaccination Center located in the former Macy’s building at Military Circle Mall in Norfolk. He’s assisting with the federal vaccination effort, supporting the Federal Emergency Management Agency and U.S. Northern Command through U.S. Army North. 

The vaccination mission has already proven to be a highlight of his military service. 

“This COVID-19 mission is unique as a NEPLO,” he said. “In other missions, you're in the emergency operations center and you're doing phone calls and reports. Here, I’m on site, and if you look behind the curtain, you can see the patients coming in.”

Salmons said that seeing first-hand the people in the community he’s serving has made the mission more personal. 

Though this is Salmons’ last year in his current NEPLO billet, he plans to request another. With more than 35 open billets in the community, there is a solid opportunity for Salmons to continue his family tradition of service through a second NEPLO tour.