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Unit Staff

COMMANDING OFFICER

CAPTAIN Mark A. Prokopius, USN

A native of Seven Hills, Ohio, Captain Prokopius received his commission through the Naval Reserve Officers’ Training Corps at the University of Notre Dame in 1990.  Following the Nuclear Training pipeline, he reported to his first assignment aboard USS Tecumseh (SSBN-628) in Charleston, SC where he served in various Division Officer billets.  After decommissioning in Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, he reported to USS Tucson (SSN 770) with the initial manning increment, and served aboard during initial sea trials, delivery and commissioning.

After a shore tour at Naval Space Command in Dahlgren, VA, Captain Prokopius served as Engineer Officer aboard USS Hyman G. Rickover (SSN 709) completing a northern Atlantic deployment for which the Rickoverreceived a Navy Unit Commendation.  He then served as a member of the Atlantic Fleet Nuclear Propulsion Examining Board before reporting to USS Norfolk (SSN 714) as Executive Officer.  While aboard Norfolk, he completed an Engineered Refueling Overhaul and conducted a surge deployment to the Mediterranean Sea in support of NATO Response Force commitments.

Following a tour on the staff of Commander, Submarine Forces as the Force Nuclear Power Officer, Captain Prokopius took command of USS New Mexico (SSN 779), completing the new construction process, delivery, commissioning and commencement of the Post Shakedown Availability.  After command, Captain Prokopius served on the staff of Submarine Squadron Six as the Deputy for Operations, and then served as a Deployable Training Team Chief in the Deployable Training Division, Joint Staff J7 Suffolk, responsible for providing worldwide support to increase the readiness of Joint Force Commanders and staffs through sharing of insights and best practices.

Most recently, Captain Prokopius served his Major Command as the Commanding Officer of USS Emory S. Land (AS 39), home ported in Guam, executing a change of home port from Diego Garcia and conducting a five month deployment in the Fifth and Seventh Fleet AORs.

Captain Prokopius holds a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering from the University of Notre Dame and a Masters in Engineering Management from Old Dominion University.  Captain Prokopius’ personal awards include the Defense Superior Service Medal, Legion of Merit, Meritorious Service Medal (three awards), the Navy Commendation Medal (six awards) and the Navy Achievement Medal (three awards) as well as various unit awards.  He and his wife, the former Kathryn Conte of Greensburg, PA, live in Chesapeake, VA with their two daughters Megan and Kara.

 

EXECUTIVE OFFICER

COMMANDER Charles Dittbenner II, USN

Commander Chuck Dittbenner is currently serving as the Executive Officer and the Associate Professor of Naval Science at the Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps Unit at the University of Notre Dame.

A native of Rockford, Illinois, Commander Dittbenner graduated from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1993 with a Bachelors of Science degree in Biology. He received his commission as an Ensign through the Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps program and was designated a Naval Flight Officer in September 1995 at Randolph AFB in San Antonio, Texas. Following initial training in the P-3C Orion with VP-30 Fleet Replacement Squadron (FRS), he reported to VP-40 at NAS Whidbey Island, Washington.

For his initial sea tour, Commander Dittbenner served as VP-40’s Avionics and Armament Division Officer where he made deployments to the SEVENTH Fleet and FIFTH Fleet Areas of Responsibility. Following his initial sea tour, he served as the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force Liaison Officer at Commander Patrol & Reconnaissance Wing One (CTF-57/72) in Kamiseya, Japan. Remaining in Japan for another two years, he completed his disassociated sea tour aboard USS KITTY HAWK (CV-63) where he served as Flag Lieutenant for CARRIER GROUP Five (CARGRU-5) in support of Operations ENDURING FREEDOM and IRAQI FREEDOM.

After graduating from the Aviation Safety Officer School in Monterey, California, Commander Dittbenner returned to VP-30 in Jacksonville, Florida where he served as a FRS Flight Instructor and the Instructional Systems Development (ISD) Division Chief for two years. For his department head tour, he deployed as the Operations Officer in VP-16 and served as the Officer- In-Charge in Comalapa Air Base, El Salvador. Following his department head tour, he attended the Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island where he earned a Master of Arts degree in National Security and Strategic Studies.

Commander Dittbenner completed his Joint tour at US Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) in Tampa, Florida where he served as a regional strategist and compartmented planner. After completing an overseas tour at FIFTH Fleet / US Navy Central Command (C5F/NAVCENT) as the Commander’s Contingency Response Lead Planner, he returned to Tampa as the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) Senior Representative to the Commander, USSOCOM. During this timeframe, he earned a Master of Arts degree in Criminal Justice with Honors.

Commander Dittbenner’s personal decorations include Defense Meritorious Service Medal (two awards), Meritorious Service Medal, Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal (five awards), Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal, and various unit and campaign awards.