DURING HIS CHILDHOOD IN EL CENTRO, CALIFORNIA, SCOTT KARTVEDT (’90) WATCHED THE BLUE ANGELS NAVY FLIGHT DEMONSTRATION SQUADRON SWIRL AROUND THE SKY AS PART OF THEIR TRAINING EXERCISES. “I saw them practice while I was riding motorcycles,” says Kartvedt, now a commanding officer in the Navy’s Strike Fighter Squadron 101.
Twenty-five years later, it was Kartvedt who was in the pilot’s seat, flying a few inches away from a neighboring aircraft at 800 mph while taking a six-plane vertical delta formation. “Anytime someone asks what goes through my head when I’m up there, I always say I’m just there in the moment,” explains Kartvedt, now the commanding officer of the Navy's first F-35 squadron, Strike Fighter Squadron ONE ZERO ONE (VFA-101). “There are times when you break away and you have that moment to fly, so you have that chance to take it all in or take in the crowd. It’s a rush!”
Among more than 90,000 Pepperdine alumni, he is the only naval officer selected as a member of the Blue Angels. Yet without Pepperdine, Kartvedt would have never even considered enlisting in the military. Passing by Chancellor Emeritus Charlie Runnels’ office one afternoon in 1990, “I saw a naval aviation poster, which caught my eye,” he recalls. “I knocked on the door, started a conversation, and struck up a friendship from that point on. We talked a lot about naval aviation and the challenges of training, but also the joys of service.” Runnels later wrote a letter of recommendation for Kartvedt’s Navy application, which propelled his decades-long career in the military.
Since then, Kartvedt has become a decorated naval commander, who has participated in 1996 Taiwanese Contingency Operations, Operations Southern Watch, and Iraqi Freedom; during Operation Enduring Freedom he commanded an F/A-18 squadron during two deployments supporting ground forces in Afghanistan. In 2010 Kartvedt assumed duties at the Pentagon as the Navy’s Joint Strike Fighter requirements officer responsible for establishing the Navy’s first stealth fighter and for training pilots and maintainers on how to operate the F-35.
Ashore, Kartvedt served with Marine Strike Fighter Squadron 101 as an F/A-18 flight instructor and landing signal officer. He has also held a post as a requirements officer of the Naval Aviation Joint Strike Fighter, where he assisted the director of air warfare in the development, programming, and budgeting of war-fighting requirements for the F-35C Strike Fighter.
Throughout his accomplished career, Kartvedt counts his wife Lisa (’90) as his most ardent supporter and someone who has enabled the family’s smooth transition throughout the 13 moves the Kartvedts have made since 2004. “We have always decided that we would move together,” he explains. “But the sweetest moment of any military career is the homecoming and homecoming embrace, because you spend six months thinking about it and when you finally reach that moment, it’s sweeter than anything you can imagine.”