Ross Myers is proof that a grounded upbringing can help someone soar to new heights — in his case, both literally and figuratively.
Many years after leaving Garden City to pursue a career in the U.S. Navy, one thing is clear to Myers: It is all because of his roots.
Earlier this year, Myers was promoted to rear admiral in the U.S. Navy, and he said this was a shock and a pleasant surprise to him at the time. A decorated Navy man, he has had command at all levels in the Navy.
Myers is vice deputy director for Nuclear, Homeland Defense and Current Operations.
He said growing up in Garden City and working at his family’s business are the main reasons he has attained the level of greatness that he has. It was all because of the lessons he learned from his father and grandfather.
Myers was born to the late Carl Myers and Carolyn Myers, who has since remarried.
“My dad was third or fourth generation at Myers Dairy, and that is where I got my upbringing and my work ethic, and I believe that’s what has helped me in the Navy as far as working long hours and staying dedicated to the job,” Myers said.
Some highlights of his career include flying multiple jet aircraft, including the F/A-18 Superhornet, S-3B Viking, A-4J Skyhawk and 1,059 carrier arrested landings aboard various aircraft carriers, including the USS George Washington, USS John C. Stennis, USS Kitty Hawk, USS Independence and USS Constellation. Myers also has been stationed abroad on different occasions.
Myers’ job is challenging, but he also says it is exciting.
“I come in to work at 4:30 a.m. and prepare briefs,” he said. “I am responsible for briefing senior leaders in the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Anything that deals with military operations around the world, I gather, assimilate and provide it in a format the senior leaders can easily and quickly digest the information.”
At 6:30 every morning, Myers, who works at the Pentagon, said he holds a secure video teleconference with all of the operation centers around the world. This includes different operational commanders in Central Command, Northern Command, commanders in Iraq and Afghanistan and all the different military watch centers.
“My job deals with current operations,” Myers said, adding that anything that happens militarily around the world is on his radar.
It doesn’t have to be strictly military, he said.
“I also report on Ebola and the military support in fighting and eradicating the Ebola virus disease,” he said.
Now that he has been promoted to admiral, Myers said he is looking forward to continuing to serve in the Navy until it is deemed that it is time for him to retire.
“I don’t know how long that will be, but I am looking forward to serving our country, whether it is for two, or 10, or 15 years more,” he said.
Myers left Garden City in 1978, when he graduated from Garden City High School and went to college.
“After I got married, I talked to my wife about the dream of flying but it was not one I had pursued before,” Myers said. “I had not even thought of going to any of the academies.”
Myers said that back then there was a program where one could enter the Navy without going through the Naval Academy.
“I chose the Navy because of the difference between the Air Force and the Navy; the Navy lands while at sea,” he said, adding that while all fighter aircraft are high performance aircraft, there are aspects that separate the Navy and the Air Force, and this is what appealed to him.
“We land while at sea and the aircraft carrier is home,” he said. “Where the Air Force can land on an 8,000-foot runway, my landing area moves and that’s the big difference. It is that much more difficult, and that much more dangerous.”
Myers has been hooked on flying for 30 years.
“There is no greater excitement in my life than flying high performance aircraft off of an aircraft carrier,” he said.
During the recent Thanksgiving holiday, Myers and his wife, Deidre, were in Garden City. Myers’ brother, Craig, and his wife’s parents, Don and Donna Meyer, still live here.
“How much Garden City has grown!” he exclaimed. “I saw Dick’s Sporting Goods, Menards, Old Chicago Pizza… that’s the first thing that strikes you, how much the place has changed.”
But even with all the change, the Myers felt that some things have not changed, especially since their favorite restaurants, El Zarape, Pho Hoa, and Daylight Donuts still stand.
“We love coming home to see family and to eat the local cuisine,” he said.
Sitting at the Pentagon and making all the big decisions he has to, one would think Myers might have forgotten about his love of flying. But the rear admiral said that couldn’t be further from the truth.
“If you’d talked to me a few years ago, I’d say it’s all about flying,” he said. “I would love to go back to flying. However, there are very few opportunities for someone of my rank to do that. But my heart still lies with flying while at sea.”
He put his passion in context.
“It is a deadly business, but somebody has to do it, and I love doing it,” Myers said. “But being on a catapult on an aircraft carrier and to accelerate from 0 to 150 miles per hour or faster in 2.2 seconds is a thrill. There’s nothing like it.”
Myers said the greatest benefit for him has been that his wife has been with him throughout his entire career.
“I could not do this without her,” he said, adding that in the Pentagon, he goes to work at 4:30 in the morning and leaves when the work is done, whatever time of night. “My wife, just as if I were a little school kid, packs my breakfast, my lunch, dinner and all my snacks and sends me on my way.”