REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. (Sept. 29, 2022) - Is he addressed as doctor, admiral or both?
For Dr. Michael Richman, deputy director for missile systems in the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command Aviation & Missile Center’s Technology Development Directorate, that became a valid question when he is appointed as a Rear Admiral Lower Half – a one-star – in the U.S. Navy Reserves Oct. 1.
But Richman, not one to stand on ceremony, prefers a third option.
“I suppose it depends whether I am wearing the uniform that day,” Richman said. “But really, it’s just Mike.”
With his down-to-earth attitude and enthusiasm for both of his jobs and family of boys, it is easy to forget that Richman has a distinguished career as both a Naval officer and Army missile scientist. A career that has led him to a deployment in Afghanistan, and earlier this year, a nomination for Technical Management Civilian of the Year from the Association of the U.S. Army’s Redstone-Huntsville chapter.
But for the Indiana native, his success is thanks to the support of his wife Jennifer, his team at DEVCOM AvMC, and his parents, who instilled in him a lifelong love of learning. Richman’s father grew up on a farm and went to Purdue University to study agriculture, later becoming a school principal. His mother was a business teacher.
“It's amazing how those things just kind of naturally flow into you and they become part of your subconscious,” Richman said. “They were very keen on education and the value of learning. And they really pushed my brother and I to do the best that we could at everything.”
Richman knew that he wanted to be an engineer from a very young age, but the Navy career was a little more unexpected.
“I remember at my sixth grade graduation, they said, ‘What are you going to be doing in 10 years?’ I calculated. I said, ‘Well, I'll be at Purdue University to get my mechanical engineering degree.’ And that's where I was. I had always wanted to be an engineer. I constantly took stuff apart, put it back together, modified it,” Richman said.
After graduation, Richman went to work at Naval Air Systems Command while also pursuing a master’s degree in mechanical engineering. During this time he had the opportunity to enter the Navy Reserve Officer Program – while simultaneously earning a doctorate in Computational Fluid Mechanics.
That commission led to a one year tour in Afghanistan where his work worlds would collide. Soon after he arrived on a base halfway around the world, Richman spotted a box labeled “AMRDEC,” AvMC’s name at the time.
“It was easy for me,” he said. “They told me where to go, what to eat, where to sleep … everything was laid out. But Jennifer's back here by herself with three boys, keeping everything going. Afghanistan not only strengthened my appreciation for what we do here, but it also really strengthened my relationship with Jennifer and the boys. You appreciated the little things so much more.”
Richman embarks on a one-year active-duty rotation as deputy commander for Cyber Engineering at the Naval Sea Systems Command Oct. 1, and while he was excited for the new opportunity, he said it would be hard to be away from AvMC and his team.
“There is this constant drive by the workforce here to always lean forward and create capability that that they all know our Soldiers need,” Richman said. “It's so enjoyable to be able to stand next to them and say you're associated with the great things that they do. It's a great place to work. And I say this all the time. What the missile community can do is second to none.
“All due respect to the folks who don't have my job - I have the best job in the Army.”
The DEVCOM Aviation & Missile Center, headquartered at Redstone Arsenal, Alabama, is the Army’s research and development focal point for advanced technology in aviation and missile systems. It is part of the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command (DEVCOM), a major subordinate command of the U.S. Army Futures Command. AvMC is responsible for delivering collaborative and innovative aviation and missile capabilities for responsive and cost-effective research, development and life cycle engineering solutions, as required by the Army’s strategic priorities and support to its Cross-Functional Teams.