An official website of the United States government
Here's how you know
A .mil website belongs to an official U.S. Department of Defense organization in the United States.
A lock (lock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .mil website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

NEWS | April 22, 2024

Profiles in Professionalism: ND1 Tyler Petrea

By PS2 Lesley Palmer and MC1 Harry Andrew D. Gordon

Tyler Petrea, a native of Kaufman, Texas, grew up in a middle class household. He is the eldest of his two siblings. In 2008, at the age of 22, his siblings expressed to him their goals of pursuing nursing careers and he wanted to help them achieve their goals.

Petrea knew that some jobs in the Navy included monetary bonuses that are earned after enlisting and completing the required schools. He went to a Navy recruiting office and inquired about jobs that included signing bonuses. With a bonus, he planned to assist his siblings with the cost of their college tuition.

“I had some general construction and welding experience,” said Petrea. “I knew if I could get a job working with my hands I could at least lean on some of my previous knowledge.”

Petrea was offered the rate of Navy Diver. He never really thought of himself as an awesome swimmer, but was told by the Navy recruiter that he would learn things like underwater welding which seemed to be right up his alley. He enlisted as an active duty Sailor in January of 2008.

Once Petrea completed boot camp, he attended his first school at Naval Station Great Lakes Dive Preparatory Training. He quickly learned that his swimming skills were not where they needed to be.

“I thought I was in good shape but realized I needed to work on my water confidence,” said Petrea. “I saw that I was not as comfortable in the water as everyone else which were mostly high school or college swimmers.”

Petrea was barely meeting swim requirements and instructors decided he needed to attend “Stroke D”. The course was after regularly scheduled training hours and focused on swimming and other in-water fundamentals like a stroke development and breathing techniques.

“It was hard work and there were moments I had to really push myself out of my comfort zone,” said Petrea. “Being a guy from a land locked area of Texas who never swam a lot and being in the water this much was new for me.”

Through hard work, the help of his instructors and the support of his fellow dive school shipmates he persevered. Petrea completed the preparatory course and continued through dive school, which is known in the special warfare community for its difficulty.

“There were two things that kept me going through school,” said Petrea. “One was that I’d lose my bonus if I did not complete the school and therefore would not be able to help my siblings. The other was that if I quit or failed I would go to the Fleet undesignated, something I did not want to do.”

Although the school was difficult, Petrea found out why so many people enjoy diving and he began to love life underwater.

“My first open water dive was down to 60 feet,” said Petrea. “It was an incredibly humbling experience. I was just this little thing in a great big ocean. There’s no other feeling that can compare to looking up at the surface from the ocean floor with the light shimmering and fish swimming around you.”

Petrea graduated diving school in October of 2008 and his plan of helping his siblings with the financial burden of college was a success. Both his siblings were enrolled and thriving academically. Upon dive school graduation, instructors asked him where he wanted to go next.

“Whatever the furthest orders I can get from where I grew up,” said Petrea. “I wanted to see something I never would have. I also wanted to get a surface warfare device and at the time a ship was the only place I could get one.”

Petrea received orders to the submarine tender USS Frank Cable based out of Guam and spent the next three years there. Although Petrea did not go on any deployments with the ship, he often deployed on temporary assignments to Bahrain, Thailand and Singapore. He would fly in with a dive team, complete submarine maintenance and then fly back home.

“I am so grateful for my tour there,” said Petrea. “I had the opportunity to see some of the world, be with both the special warfare community but also see the how the Fleet worked as well.”

Once his tour was completed onboard USS Frank Cable, he found himself headed to Naval Special Warfare Group One 1 (LOGSU) in San Diego.

Petrea continued his career as a combat swimmer instructor and dive representative. He would attach periodically to seal teams three and five for the next two years teaching them how to do maintenance and operate the Mark 25 rebreather. He would also provide training on underwater navigation.

In 2013 Petrea decided to leave active duty and the military as whole. He was hired by Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, in Bremerton, Wa., to do basically the same job that he did in the Navy but now as a as a Department of the Navy civilian diver.

“I had a six month probation period ensuring my skills were capable and that I was able to integrate with the team,” said Petrea. “It was great to continue my dive career but now as a civilian.”

As Petrea approached a nearly two-year break in service, he began to think that he had more to offer the Navy. In 2015 he reenlisted into the Navy Reserves.

“I have a lot a pride in my Naval service, I have become very proficient at my job and felt I still had so much more to give,” said Petrea. “The Reserves gave me the opportunity to continue with my civilian career and also continue to have adventures as a Navy diver abroad.”

Navy Diver 1st Class Petrea is currently assigned to Navy Reserve Center Kitsap and cross assigned to Expeditionary Maintenance Unit Headquarters. He is awaiting orders to 1C Advanced Dive School at the end of the year.

“I’m really excited to attend the school which historically has been difficult for Reserve Sailors to attend,” said Petrea. “It is a 97 day course and a requirement to advance to Chief Petty Officer in my rate.”

As Petrea continues to advance in his career so does his siblings as they are both practicing registered nurses back in Texas.

“My siblings are thankful, proud and are anxiously awaiting my return home to Texas,” said Petrea. “I will most likely have to return to Galveston or Corpus Christi for my retirement because I’m not sure I could survive without salt water so we will see.”