News: Lt. Col. Rodger Pitt, a man with soul and career pointed toward the heavens: Recently promoted Dexter native advances career in military space
Story by Tina Stillions
SAN DIEGO - Lt. Col. Rodger Pitt, a Dexter native, has been a member of the U.S. Army for more than 17 years and has served in various tactical, operational and strategic-level assignments throughout his career. Assigned to the Navy’s Program Executive Office for Space Systems in San Diego, he is somewhat of an anomaly amongst his peers: one of a select few of Army soldiers who have served beside naval counterparts in the Navy’s space program.
“There are over 300 Army officers that make up the Army Space Operations Officer career field and only a few are what I would call experts in satellite acquisition,” said Pitt. “I am certainly proud to be a part of the group and to have that kind of specialized experience.”
Pitt first became interested in the fields of science and technology during his early college years at Southeast Missouri State University. He was a Distinguished Military Graduate with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Electronic Technology and an Associate of Applied Science Degree in Computer Technology.
“I always had an interest in space,” said Pitt, who was promoted to lieutenant colonel at the end of September in a ceremony in San Diego. “But after being trained on national satellite systems in the military intelligence career field back in 2000, I became intrigued with satellite operations. That’s when I became a lifetime student of everything related to satellite design and operations.”
While at the Naval Postgraduate School in 2005, Pitt earned a Master of Science Degree in Space Systems Operations and a Master of Science Degree in Physics. His thesis research topic was “Mitigating Plasma-Induced Communication Signal Attenuation for Hyper-Sonic Reentry Vehicles”; this research was funded through the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command (SPAWAR) Fellowship Grant Program.
“I’ve worked with the Navy, Air Force and other national organizations for 10 of the last 12 years, which has broadened my view of space and satellite operations, something many of my colleagues have not had the opportunity to have,” said Pitt. “That background made it an easy transition to the Navy communication satellite program office at SPAWAR.”
Pitt is currently serving in the Navy Communications Satellite Program Office as the assistant program manager for Mobile User Objective System launch, the Legacy UHF SATCOM operations manager and Army liaison to the MUOS Program Office.
He was a key team member during the Navy's first next-generation narrowband tactical satellite communications system satellite launch, Feb. 24, from Cape Canaveral, Fla. MUOS is designed to improve communications for U.S. forces on the move. It provides military users simultaneous voice, video and data capability by leveraging 3G mobile communications technology.
“Being part of the MUOS launch was an amazing experience,” said Pitt. “The thrill of seeing everything come together after months of hard work and long hours is indescribable and certainly a high point in my career.”
When asked about his greatest accomplishment in life, he acknowledges his successful military career, marriage and fatherhood. But he is also quick to follow on that answer with a strong religious faith.
“I don’t believe my career success would have been possible without a strong faith; it has been my anchor,” said Pitt. “My faith has carried me through the many ups and downs of life. It has made me an honorable husband to my wife and a good father to my children.”
He is a man with deep roots in family and community. He has been married to his wife, Tammy, for 19 years, and they have two children. Tammy, also of Dexter, is now attending Alliant International University and working toward a Masters Degree in Marriage and Family Therapy. She has a National Certification in Massage Therapy and is the proud mother of their one son, Brandon, and one daughter, Stacy. Both are very involved with their church.
So how does a man bring together the worlds of science and space, with their basis in the physical and material world, and religion and faith, which is a belief in those things not seen, and make it all work?
Pitt has no trouble reconciling the two; they are not mutually exclusive in his mind and in fact have given him a life that has been richly rewarding and successful.
“Albert Einstein once said, ‘Science without religion is lame; religion without science is blind,’ and I agree,” said Pitt. “I truly believe that the last 21 years have not been my plan but have been my creator’s plan for me. The life I have today is the result of my faith and belief in that plan.”
In addition to major career accomplishments, Pitt has received numerous awards, including the Bronze Star, the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, the Meritorious Service Medal, the Army Commendation Medal (oak leaf clusters), the Army Achievement Medal (oak leaf clusters), the Meritorious Unit Citation, the National Defense Service Medal (two), the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, the Iraqi Campaign Medal, the Army Service Ribbon, the Oversees Service Ribbon, the NATO Medal, the German Armed Forces Proficiency Badge, the Air Assault Badge, the Parachutist Badge and the Senior Space Badge.
He currently plans on finishing out his career and staying in San Diego.
Pitt has fond memories of his early years growing up in Dexter, Mo.
“I was a paperboy and spent many years delivering the local newspaper and working at Piggly Wiggly in Dexter. I also went to Dexter High School,” he recalls. “Even though I’ve traveled to many locations throughout the world, I’ve never forgotten my roots or my heritage. I’ll always be a Dexter native.”
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