How It All Began by Eric Hadley, CEO
“When I was growing up I thought that I was going to be a cartoon artist. Then, in the later years of high school. I was going to be an architect, followed by an Army Officer, which lead to a Law Enforcement Officer, and lastly a Naval Officer. When it was all said and done, I became a Licensed, United States Coast Guard Merchant Marine Engineer who, right out of college went to work for the United States Navy’s Military Sealift Command.
I was a small town country boy from Paris Texas who, upon graduation, went to bootcamp in Ft. Knox Kentucky to compete for an Army Scholarship; as part of the United States Army Early Commissioning Program. After bootcamp, I reported to my sponsoring school, New Mexico Military Institute in Roswell NM, a two-year junior college. While I earned a scholarship, ultimately I decided to turn it down for personal reasons… basically, they weren’t going to guarantee that I could drive tanks… What can I say? I have always been enamored by big pieces of equipment… In the end, I still went to school and graduated from NMMI, with a Liberal Arts Degree, before transferring up to Maine Maritime Academy in Castine ME. During my time in Castine, I again competed for a scholarship. This time it was for the Navy to which, again, I had earned one. Upon graduation, I was commissioned as an Ensign in the United States Navy’s Individual Ready Reserve program. Growing up in a small town in northeast Texas, I rarely made it out of the state, let along the country. What’s funny is that by the time I had graduated college I had already been to 13 different countries. Needless to say, I was bitten by the travel bug.
Right after graduation, I went to work for Military Sealift Command, as an Engineering Officer, where I spent the next 13 years traveling the globe doing logistical support for US forces at sea. This job lead me to see and do so many amazing things. Just to list a few, I was able to:
- Be a First Responder onboard the USNS Comfort during the 9/11 attacks.
- Be an active part of Operation Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom onboard the USNS Niagara Falls
- Be a participant in mission work for an elderly community in Thailand onboard the USNS Walther S. Diel
- Aiding stranded sailors in the Indian Ocean
I have been blessed to serve so many people throughout my career. A career that has taken me to 59 different countries.
Something that always seemed to happen when we pulled into port was that we sought out wi-fi as a way to reconnect with loved ones back home. Typically, the best wi-fi was always found at the local coffee shops. Point here is that I have spent my fair share of time in coffee shops over the years.