Lieutenant Commander Joel Ira Holwitt

LCDR Holwitt R

Joel Ira Holwitt is the fourth Executive Officer of our boat: USS NORTH DAKOTA (SSN-784). As such he is the second in command. He received a doctorate in history from Ohio State University in 2005. During his graduate work he wrote Execute Against Japan – The U.S. Decision to Conduct Unrestricted Submarine Warfare during World War II. It was well received as the immediate past Chief of Naval Operations and the Naval War College included it as one of the eighteen essential books in the Navy’s 2012 Professional Reading Program. I reviewed it for The Bismarck Tribune, so I will write another blog post with a link to the review when it is published.

A resident of San Antonio, Texas, Holwitt earned his commission from the U.S. Naval Academy in May 2003.  His operational assignments began as a division officer on board USS Houston (SSN 713), based out of Apra Harbor, Guam, where he completed six missions vital to national security during three Guam mission cycles in the Western Pacific.  He served his department head tour as Navigator/Operations Officer on board USS New Mexico (SSN 779), based out of Groton, Connecticut.  While his boat was in Post-Shakedown Availability at Electric Boat, he also served on temporary assignment as Navigator/Operations Officer on board USS Missouri (SSN 780).

Ashore, Lieutenant Commander Holwitt served as the Navy Fellow in the Chief of Staff of the U.S. Army Strategic Studies Group in Washington, DC. He subsequently served as an Assistant Nuclear Officer Program Manager at OPNAV N133 in the Bureau of Naval Personnel in Washington, DC.

Holwitt’s personal awards include the Navy Commendation Medal (two awards), the Army Commendation Medal, and the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal (three awards). He has served on board units that earned the Meritorious Unit Commendation, the Navy “E” ribbon, and the Navy Expeditionary Medal.

He and his wife, the former Avery Moss of East Lyme, Connecticut, have four children, Lance, Gavin, Viviane, and Alexandra.  In his book Holwitt writes, “I am truly fortunate to have gotten to know the legendary Captain Slade Cutter and his kind wife, Ruth, as well as Captain Lee Moss, his wonderful wife, Holly, and their exuberant daughter Avery.  They inspired and mentored me as I began my journey as a naval officer and a naval historian.  And more importantly, no one could have imagined that I would be eventually married to that gorgeous and still-exuberant daughter!  I can’t wait to meet her and him.


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