Introduction by past president Vanessa Havener: Rotary’s motto is “Service Above Self” and I can’t think of anything more fitting than describing the service a veteran provides to our country by volunteering in our uniformed services. The military literally owns your body and dictates your medical care, appearance, where you live and for how long, what job you do and what you can tell your family. If you deploy, you are also most likely missing birthdays, anniversaries, births, deaths & graduations and if you deploy to a combat zone you might get shot at, shot down, or blown up by IED.
Why do it then? Some might say it’s a sense of duty, a calling, others say, my father served and set the example when I was young. My favorite veteran likes adrenaline and liked to jump out of airplanes before he wanted to fly them really fast. Whatever the reason, I’m grateful for those men and women who make up just 2% of our population and the risks they take to defend our national interests and ideals.
I’m proud to call him my husband, introducing John “Strut” Havener – Marine Corps veteran of over 800 parachute jumps and 300 combat sorties.
John talked to the Club about his history in the Marines. It’s an amazing story that included both land and air duties.
John Havener is a graduate of Auburn University and joined the Marine Corps Reserves in 1990. He attained the rank of Staff Sergeant serving as a Parachute Rigger and Reconnaissance
Marine. John was commissioned a Second Lieutenant in the Marine Corps in 1998. After completion of flight training, he was assigned to fly the AV-8B Harrier.
“Strut” served with the VMA-311 “Tomcats” from May 2002 to May 2006. During this period, he participated in two combat deployments one with the West Coast Harrier Carrier, USS Bonhomme Richard, and his second deployment at Al Asad Air base flying combat operations in support of OPERATION Southern Watch and Iraqi Freedom.
In June 2006, Captain Havener reported to 2d Force Reconnaissance Company to serve as the Company Air Officer. Re-designated 2d Marine Special Operations Battalion (Raiders), he served as the Battalion Air Officer and S-3A. Captain Havener deployed in support of CJSOTF and conducted ground combat operations in Helmand Province with the Marine Raiders.
Upon completion of his duties at 2d Raider Bn, he was selected to represent the Marines in the United Kingdom. Serving with 800 Naval Air Squadron, Major Havener transitioned to the GR-9 and learned how to fly low, very low. While flying with Joint Force Harrier, he deployed
to multiple locations throughout the UK and Europe as well as aboard HMS Ark Royal.
In 2011, he returned to MAG-13, MCAS Yuma and served as the Executive Officer for VMA 211 “Avengers”. He deployed with the Squadron to Afghanistan in support of OPERATION Enduring Freedom.
Major Havener reported to Fleet Logistics Squadron 1 (VR-1) in June 2013 and transitioned to fly the C-37 and ended his tour as the CMC Detachment OIC. He was selected for the rank of LtCol and as a Command Alternate. He flew around the globe in support of the Navy and
Marine Corps senior leadership and deployed twice in support of COMISAF (Afghanistan).
Major Havener has 25 years of service and over 2700 flight hours and 1750 in the Harrier, logging more than 600 combat hours. His personal decorations include the Bronze Star Medal for Valor, Meritorious Service Medal (2), Air Strike Medal with Strike Flight numeral 11, Navy
and Marine Corps Commendation Medal (2), and the Navy and the Marine Corps Achievement Medal (3).
John is married to the former Vanessa Owen of Tucson AZ. Together they have two amazing children, Owen (11) Vera (6) reside in Boca Raton, FL. John currently is a pilot for American Airlines.
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