CDR Vince Scott, USN (Ret), the Battalion Commander and Valedictorian from the Class of 1985, served in the United States Navy and currently works as a Cyber Security Consultant at PricewaterhouseCoopers.
The Battalion Commander and Valedictorian from the Class of 1985, Vincent H. Scott, will return to Farragut in May as the graduation speaker for the Class of 2016. He spent three incredible years as a boarder at Farragut before attending the Naval Academy, where he graduated with a BS in Computer Science, Software Engineering. He spent 21 years in the Navy with work in intelligence, technology, and cyber security, being awarded four times with the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, the US Navy Combat Action Ribbon, and 30 additional personal and unit awards including the Director of Central Intelligence Meritorious Unit Citation. After retiring from the Navy in 2010, Vince became a Cyber Security Consultant with PricewaterhouseCoopers, the world’s largest auditing and consulting firm. In addition he serves on the Editorial Board for the Journal of Law and Cyber Warfare, is the president of the Cincinnati Chapter of the United States Naval Academy Alumni Association, and is a member of the board for the Cincinnati Chapter of the US Navy League.
For more on Vince’s illustrious career, please read his detailed profile following the Q&A.
How did Farragut prepare you for life at the Naval Academy?
I think Farragut did a great job of preparing me, especially for Plebe Summer. I could march. I could make my bed. Two skills that will be the failure of you if you are unable to do them correctly and which will get you a lot of attention during Plebe Summer. Also, the discipline around study hours was similar; everyone has to play a sport and attend study hall in the evening. That was very similar. It made Plebe Summer an easy start for me.
Was there a key pivotal moment for you during your Navy career that brought you back to your days at Farragut?
At Farragut we had Captain R.J. Alexander. He was my math teacher three years in a row. Geometry, then Algebra 2, then Calculus. He was from the Class of 1944 at the Naval Academy. So we would get stories from him, vignettes with certain details but not all of them. I didn’t put the pieces together until years later when I was in cryptology. It finally clicked for me that his career path was in the cryptology field.
It sounds like he probably played a big role in your development at Farragut and beyond.
Captain Alexander was a great guy. He was one of the best teachers I had ever seen. I’m sure the preparation I had received from a math perspective carried me well into the Naval Academy. He taught the old Naval Academy method. He would come in every day and he had 360 degrees of chalkboard in his room and he would have a quiz on the previous day’s work on one of them. The first five minutes of every class was a quiz. Then he would have a lesson on another board that he had written up that morning in chalk. He would go through the lesson and explain the concepts. Here’s a basic problem, a medium problem, an advanced problem. He would work through all of those with you and then you would have time to ask questions, discuss the homework for the night, discuss yesterday’s homework, maybe give yesterday’s quiz back, discuss the quiz. Then every two weeks you would have a test. A great incentive that I loved is if you had an A, you wouldn’t have to do the homework and you only had to take four quizzes in the two week period, essentially two a week instead of every day, and you could pick. If you fell out of having an A, then you would have to go back to taking a quiz every day and do the homework.
He was also a guy who would take the textbook home and he worked every problem himself so when you would come to him with questions he would open up his notebooks and go over the problems with you because he had done them already.
What life lessons did you take away from him and the way he ran his class?
My observation came not only from the math lessons but the fact that he had a very active career himself. He had a host of life experiences that he could draw from and teach us about life. Also it’s a great example of teaching. It was much closer to what kids experience in college.
Any other memories from Farragut?
What I remember is we didn’t have air conditioning in the halls. That’s a 1920s hotel. We had the windows open. I remember it where the doors were always open. You could walk straight through from one side of Farragut Hall to the other without having to open a door. It might have been hot but the way the building was designed was clearly to allow the breeze from the water flow through and create ventilation. It was actually pretty nice.
Did you play any sports?
Ran track. Varsity letters in baseball and basketball, although I wasn’t a star or anything.
How did you discover Farragut?
My grandmother lived in Clearwater. I’m originally from St. Louis and we would visit her often. I always was interested in the military. I was a kid that played with G.I. Joe action figures. There were these encyclopedias at my grandmother’s house. I looked up the Air Force, Army, Navy, Marines, and I was interested in the different ranks. I remember asking a family member, “What’s the best way to be in the military?” They told me, “Be an officer.” I replied, “What’s the best way to do that?” “Go to an academy.” That’s when I started figuring out the best way to get on that path.
“Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” by Stephen R. Covey
What are you reading now?
Currently, “The Rules of the Game: Jutland and British Naval Command” by Andrew Gordon. It’s a look at command and control of the Navy in post World War II, about the culture and decisions they made in peacetime.
Favorite fiction book?
The Honor Harrington series by David Weber
The Avengers series
You spent quite a time traveling the world for your career. During your free time, you must have visited some memorable places. What places are on your short list of favorites?
Malta, maybe number one. The Yorkshire Dales is an upland area of the Pennines in Northern England. The area is in the historic county of Yorkshire, most of it in the Yorkshire Dales National Park. Drumlanrig Castle is situated on the Queensberry Estate in Dumfries and Galloway, Scotland. Garmisch-Partenkirchen is a German ski resort in Bavaria, formed when 2 towns united in 1935. It’s a prominent destination for winter sports as well as alpine hiking.
Vince attended Farragut for three years during which he served as the Battalion Commander and the Valedictorian for his graduating class. He graduated with a BS in Computer Science, Software Engineering from the Naval Academy in 1989. He also has earned his MS in Management Information Systems from the University of Maryland, is a 2012 graduate of the Oklahoma State University Veteran Entrepreneurship Program, is a graduate of the Air Command and Staff College, and the Joint Forces Staff College senior officer program.
During his early military career he served aboard USS Vreeland (FF-1068) in Mayport, FL, and USS Cape St. George (CG-71) in Norfolk, VA, deploying three times to Law Enforcement Operations in the Caribbean, to the Persian Gulf for combat operations in DESERT SHIELD and DESERT STORM, and again to the Mediterranean in 1994. In 1996, he was re-designated as a Navy Cryptologist and spent the remainder of his career working intelligence support to a broad range of national and military missions. He served in the National Security Operations Center, and led a National Intelligence Support Team in Bosnia supporting the U.S. 1st Armored Division. He served as a national mission supervisor and played an important role in actions against Al Qaida senior leadership in 1998. When 9/11 struck CDR Scott moved from US Special Operations Command to US Central Command at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, filling a number of intelligence collection and leadership roles in support of combat operations. In 2003 he deployed to Qatar and then Baghdad as a part of Operation IRAQI FREEDOM. In 2004 he deployed to Afghanistan with the Joint Special Operations Command. His overseas tours also included service with both the Naval Forces Europe/US Sixth Fleet in Naples, Italy, and US European Command in Stuttgart, Germany, where he participated in US activities around the Russian invasion of Georgia, counterterrorism actions in North Africa, and NATO military operations in Kosovo, and other national missions.
Vince is married to the former Ms. Kristina Howard of Pascagoula, Mississippi, and has three children; Anya, Jacob, and Shelby. Anya is a physical therapist in Cheyenne, Wyoming, Jacob is a freshman at Cincinnati State, and Shelby is a junior at Archbishop McNicholas High School.