Ward Olivete spent the first 18 years of his life near the Pacific Ocean in Salinas, California. He was a good-natured, church-going, tennis-playing kid whose wanderlust and desire to serve led him to the Naval Academy. “Join the Navy, see the world” they told him and off he went.
Ward’s plebe year introduced him to those whom remain his closest friends still today. He kept busy as a Systems Engineering major while rowing lightweight crew and singing in the Glee Club. Four years seemed to fly by as chow calls blurred into summer cruises, the Ring Dance and Commissioning Week. With his eyesight too poor for flight operations (and LASIK not yet an option), Ward accepted a cross commission into the Air Force.
From Annapolis, Ward headed west for training at Vandenberg AFB in California. After kicking back for several weeks on California’s central coast, he traveled to Big Sky country where he spent the next four and a half years as a Missileer (ICBM Launch Control Officer) at Malmstrom AFB in Great Falls, Montana. There, Ward attained personal satisfaction and professional success. Days off were spent traveling, hiking and camping with friends and his two Siberian huskies, as well as earning an MBA. On the job, Ward earned one of the three operational Flight Commander positions in his squadron (Deuce!). After five years on active duty, he decided that other opportunities awaited him in the civilian world.
Driving away to views of a miraculous sunset caused by wildfires, Ward returned to California and took a job for a cancer diagnostics laboratory. But his yearning for new challenges was not being satisfied and he decided to head to Boston for law school. Beantown proved to be a crucial turning point for Ward. It was during law school that he came out at the age of 30. Moreover, he had the opportunity to spend seven months in London as he learned the true meaning of self-acceptance.
Upon graduating, Ward once again gathered his belongings and headed to The City that Never Sleeps. Life in New York City, while challenging at times, was wonderfully exciting and stimulating. He lived in vibrant Hell’s Kitchen and worked as a litigator. When not experiencing the uniqueness that is New York, Ward remained active in the community and supported organizations such as LAMBDA Legal, The Human Rights Campaign and Immigration Equality, as well as having volunteered for The Ali Forney Center (a homeless shelter for gay youth). But even the vibrance of Gotham could not quell his wanderlust as Ward in 2009 (with a little kick from the global financial crisis) moved halfway around the world to Melbourne, Australia.
Ward currently lives with his partner Tom and their husky Ravage in South Yarra (Melbourne), and works as an in-house lawyer for Experian Australia. He plans on remaining in Oz indefinitely, so please feel free to look him up if you are in the area and want to say “G’day.”
I did not come to terms with my sexuality while I was in the military, but like many, struggled constantly with it as I served my country. Although I think that life would certainly have been easier had I attended a civilian college and come out at an earlier age, I would not trade my Academy or military service for anything. I feel so fortunate to have served with innumerable selfless, motivated and talented men and women, and likewise I am proud to have defended the freedom and rights that so many take for granted.
I feel especially blessed for my amazing 14th Company classmates from the Academy. I was a bit apprehensive when I decided to come out to them. Indeed, they were (and are) my family. To their credit, all were loving and supportive.
Please feel free to contact Ward here at USNA Out.