From retired Marine to professor: How Col. Jake Graham became immersed in the Penn State community

From retired Marine to professor: How Col. Jake Graham became immersed in the Penn State community


Everyone, let’s wait for Kenny Loggins’ “Danger Zone.”

There aren’t many people who are both former Marines and university professors. Not to mention being a father, coach, author, and community leader. But Col. Jake Graham, professor of information science and technology at Penn State University, is the right person for the role.

Graham is a Pennsylvanian born and raised in Harrisburg, the state capitol. After his high school graduation, he attended Harrisburg area community college and then attended Iowa State University, where he studied architecture under the influence of his grandfather.

Although he completed the program to earn his degree, he said he realized architecture might not be the career for him.

“When I finished my degree, it wasn’t very good timing. The industry was introducing technology and I wasn’t keeping up with it,” Graham said. “My classes didn’t take any courses in computer-aided design, so when I went on the job market, I wasn’t as marketable as kids with that technology background.”

Graham decided to focus on aviation, which he had always wanted to study.

“One of the things I’ve always wanted to do was learn how to fly,” Graham said. “Probably a year before graduation, I started pursuing the Marine Corps as a career path.”

Graham said he had always been interested in aviation, but it was too expensive to study at university. He considered the Marines as a potential field because of his older brother, who was in the Marines during the Vietnam War, and his college roommate, who was also in the Corps. However, it was a Christmas present that solidified his decision to join the military.

“One year over Christmas, I took a few flying lessons at the local airport,” Graham said. “And I kind of got hooked on it, so this is what happened.”

Graham enlisted in the Marine Corps in December 1980 and was commissioned a second lieutenant shortly after completing nine months at U.S. Army Cadet School. After that, he spent 17 months at flight school and received his pilot’s wings in June 1983.

After completing all his training, Graham was stationed with his squadron in California for six years and then in Okinawa, Japan for two years. In Okinawa, Graham spent most of his time deployed to Korea, the Philippines, and battleships.

Graham also met his wife while in Japan. Dr. Kim Graham is a Penn State University graduate and retired Marine Corps lieutenant colonel. The two married after dating for two years and moved to Quantico, Virginia, for officer training, where they worked together as officers.

While at Quantico, Graham was assigned to HMX-1, the White House executive flight unit responsible for helicopter transport for the President of the United States. Graham said he spent four and a half years on HMX-1, flying in support of Presidents George Bush Sr. and Bill Clinton.

“Wherever the president goes around the world, a Marine Corps helicopter crew is always ready to accompany him,” Graham said. “He may not see them, but they’re hiding somewhere in the background in case we have to make an emergency relocation of the president.”

Graham and his wife relocated to Okinawa in 1995, this time accompanied by their 10-month-old daughter, Megan. Graham completed another infantry tour at Infantry Headquarters and became a company commander. However, when they left Okinawa this time, they brought back a fourth family member, their son Brett, who was born in Japan.

The newly expanded Graham family returned to the United States, where Graham completed a tour as a political-military advisor to the Department of Defense and worked as a staff member for Japan/Okinawa. He then became the commander of the air base supporting the Presidential Squadron at Quantico until June 2001.

Graham and his family were on the road again, but this time their destination was Germany. He was reassigned to U.S. European Command (EUCOM) where he served as Non-Strategic Nuclear Forces Advisor and served as Mission Commander for EUCOM Airborne Nuclear Command. Mr. Graham also deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, helping the U.S. Army’s 4th Infantry Division cross Turkey into northern Iraq in May 2003.

Graham returned to the Department of Defense in July 2004 and worked as a colonel in the General’s Office at Headquarters Marine Corps. He led the Inspection and Investigation Division and later served as Chairman of the Navy Discharge Review Board and Secretary of the Navy.

Graham retired from the Navy on July 1, 2007 after serving approximately 27 years in the Marine Corps. After Graham and his wife retired, they decided to move their family to their hometown state university. Graham said when he moved to town, he intended to continue working, but he didn’t know where he would work.

Graham thought he wanted to work at an airport because of his experience in the Marines, but that was until he met people at Penn State’s College of Information Sciences (IST). Graham submitted his resume and was invited for an interview.

At the time, the university had just introduced a degree in security and risk analysis and needed a professor to build the curriculum and support research. Graham agreed to help and became a professor at Penn State in the summer of 2007.

As part of his research support, he is the director of the Red Cell Analytics Lab (RCAL). The lab was established a year after Graham arrived on campus, and Graham said he modeled the lab after his work in the Marine Corps.

“The concept of red blood cells is something I brought with me from the Marine Corps,” Graham said. “I used intelligence all the time I was in the Marines, so when I build a course, I build it over and over again using the techniques and processes I learned during my time in the Marines. Red Blood Cell The same is true.”

Graham said red teaming is a military term used to identify potential enemies. This lab will teach students how to identify and mitigate these potential threats.

“So if you have a war plan, you need some way to test that war plan. The blue army makes a friendly war plan, and then the red army tries to attack that war plan, and they do it by putting themselves in the enemy’s shoes,” Graham said. “That’s the technique that red teaming teaches. How do you put yourself in the enemy’s shoes to get into the friendly circle?”

Graham said that over the years, Red Cell Analytics Lab has helped hundreds of students land internships and jobs in intelligence agencies, law enforcement and the military.

After retiring, Graham not only became a professor and ran a research lab, but also coached his son’s sports teams from his time in the Marines.

“I did a lot of coaching back then,” Graham said. “Our son was a baseball and football player, so I coached him in baseball for 11 years, from Little League to Legion Baseball, and then in youth football for six years.”

Nine years ago, when Graham was approached with the opportunity to become a faculty coach for Penn State’s men’s volleyball team, he didn’t think he had the time or energy to commit to the program, but he decided to discuss it with head coach Mark. said. Anyway, Pavlik. After the meeting, Graham decided to take the faculty mentor position, he said.

“I have a unique opportunity in men’s volleyball and it all starts in the pub,” Graham said. “Pub has welcomed me as a full-time partner in the program, so I attend all the events he and the coaches attend, travel with the team, and [and] I’m going to practice.

But perhaps the most valuable thing for Graham is the relationships he has built with his players.

“The players started to get to know me and confide in me, and we started talking about things other than volleyball,” Graham said. “There were a lot of students in the classroom, so I had a chance to get to know them better.

“I’ve been to volleyball weddings and got to know a lot of the players really well,” Graham continued.

Graham decided to start writing during the COVID-19 pandemic. He started by writing a fictional short story about the origins of COVID-19 called “The Assassin’s Mace.” Graham has written four books, his first one during the pandemic, he said. “Scimitar Strike” It was published about 2 months ago. The second book is currently with the publisher.

Graham said years of creating and building curriculum in her classroom helped her begin writing the novel.

“I have to create my own synthetic intelligence, but I’ve been building exercises for the past 16 years, so I have a ton of stuff like this,” Graham said. “So I’ve been accumulating these intelligence products over the years.”

Graham added that some of the lessons and many things he learned in the Marine Corps are also used as the background for the novel.

“I try to integrate processes that I know well, draw from history, incorporate real events, and then create characters around those events and embellish them as such from a fictional perspective. ” Graham said.

Graham returned from the NCAA Tournament in California with the men’s volleyball team a few weeks ago and said next season would be his last with the team. He said he began his gradual retirement last season and used the extra time to revise some of the curriculum he created 16 years ago.

As for family, Graham’s wife, Kim, works at Penn State University, where she uses her doctorate in education to advise the university on curriculum development. Graham’s daughter Megan graduated from Penn State with a degree in security risk analysis, and she took three of her father’s courses. She currently works as an analyst in Washington, DC.

Graham’s son Brett attended college and played football, then transferred to Tennessee for graduate school. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in finance from his UConn and earned a master’s degree in public policy and administration from Tennessee. As a punter, he was named to the All-Conference First Team in 2014 at State College High School and in college he played in 35 games and also lives in Washington, D.C.

Graham said he is currently writing his fifth book and plans to release his second book later this summer or fall.



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