Toledo native set to take command of USS ToledoWritten by Sarah Ottney | Managing Editor | firstname.lastname@example.org
When U.S. Navy Cmdr. Michael Majewski visited Toledo last fall, he was only a few months away from starting his dream job: Captain of the submarine USS Toledo. It’s a job the Toledo native specifically requested because of the name of the vessel.
“They asked us for our priorities of where we want to go,” Majewski told Toledo Free Press during his visit, where he was honored as part of an on-field ceremony at the University of Toledo-Navy football game.
“I listed all of my priorities in terms of home port and submarines, but at the very top of that list I put the USS Toledo. I said ‘If there’s any chance I could get the USS Toledo that’s where I want to go, regardless of where she’s at.’ So that was my No. 1 choice and the detailers made me my No. 1 choice.”
The USS Toledo is based in Groton, Conn., so that’s where Majewski, his wife, Tracey, and their three daughters moved this summer.
“The guy who called me to tell me I got the USS Toledo, I’ve worked for him in the past and he knew how strong my ties were with my family and friends and being from Toledo so he was really excited to tell me the news,” Majewski said. “It was really cool.”
The official transfer of command will take place May 16.
Majewski grew up in Toledo, attending St. Francis de Sales High School for two years before graduating from Start High School. He’s been in the Navy for 22 years. He enlisted “to see the world” after graduating from high school in 1990, leaving for boot camp in March 1991.
A year and a half later, the Secretary of the Navy offered him a direct appointment to the U.S. Naval Academy, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in systems engineering. He later added a master’s degree in mechanical engineering from Penn State and a master’s degree from the Joint Forces Staff College in Norfolk, Va.
Majewski said most of his family lives within a few hours of Toledo, so he still visits regularly.
“I have been coming back one to two times a year for the past 22 years,” Majewski said. “Every time I take leave, at least one point during the year, I come back here. My parents still live here, my brothers and sisters.”
He met his wife during his time in State College, Pa., where he earned his master’s degree while serving as an ROTC instructor at Penn State. Majewski has also been stationed in Orlando, Charleston, S.C., Groton, Conn., Pearl Harbor, Norfolk, Va., and Washington, D.C.
“I think it’s great,” Tracey said of the upcoming appointment. “We couldn’t be happier that he gets to command the Toledo.”
The Majewskis’ oldest daughter, Taylor, just finished her freshman year at the University of Toledo.
“We were getting ready to move to Connecticut [as she was looking at colleges],” Majewski said. “She wasn’t looking at that many schools there. We actually thought we were going to Guam. I knew Toledo was a great school and she would have the support structure here. So we asked her to consider Toledo and she’s loving it.”
The Majewskis’ other daughters are Katie, a high school junior, and 6-year-old Hannah.
At the Oct. 20 football game, then-Mayor Mike Bell presented Majewski with a key to the city during an on-field presentation at the Glass Bowl.
“It’s kind of cool. It’s kind of surreal,” Majewski said of being on the sidelines instead of in the stands. Majewski’s first job as a teenager was vending soda and popcorn at UT football games. He also worked concessions for the Toledo Mud Hens in the summers.
“‘Popcorn here!’” he said, laughing as he gave an impression of himself on the job as a teenager. “Once I grew up a little bit, they let me carry hot dogs. Those were heavier.”
The USS Toledo will be Majewski’s fourth sub assignment. He’s also been on the USS Tucson out of Pearl Harbor, Hawaii; USS Newport News out of Norfolk, Va.; and USS Cheyenne out of Pearl Harbor.
Majewski said he’s been deployed to the Atlantic Ocean, Indian Ocean and Pacific Ocean, but said he couldn’t be more specific. His goal of seeing the world came true.
“Between my first three boats, I’ve actually crossed every line of latitude on the globe,” Majewski said. “I haven’t gone all the way around the globe because I didn’t go through the Panama Canal, but I went all the way into Chile, which if you look at the globe, is farther east than Washington, D.C.”
Majewski said his favorite part of the Navy is the family atmosphere.
“There’s a special bond that goes on in the submarine force,” Majewski said. “While there’s rank and there’s a rank structure, once you shut the hatches and go underwater, we really are a family. Those guys rely on me with their lives as much as I rely on them.”
As captain of the USS Toledo, Majewski will take responsibility for the whole ship.
“As commanding officer, you are responsible for everything that happens on board the boat,” Majewski said. “My primary job is to train the guys on board to be able to safely and efficiently operate the boat and basically get the crew ready to go over and do what we do overseas.
“The ultimate responsibility of everything that happens on board rests with the commanding officer. That’s why when there’s a collision at sea or an accident, usually the captain gets fired because, regardless of what his role was, he’s ultimately responsible.”
Majewski said he’s proud to be in the Navy.
“I really enjoy doing what we do,” Majewski said. “It’s important to go over and defend our nation and our nation’s interest. Obviously being a submarine, we’re not out on the ground carrying a rifle, but we’re sitting there somewhere. For every situation in the world, you can pretty much guarantee there’s a submarine somewhere close.”
When he’s back in Toledo, Majewski said his favorite thing to do is relax with his family.
“Every time we’re back in the summer we go to Mud Hens games. When we’re back in the fall, we go to a high school football game or UT game,” Majewski said. “I haven’t been to a Walleye game yet. I really want to go, but we haven’t been able to work the schedule yet.”
Despite the chilly, drizzly weather on Oct. 20, Majewski clearly enjoyed the game.
“If I wasn’t in this (dress uniform), I’d be in my Navy jersey with my Billy Goat hat on,” Majewski said. “I want to go over and hang out with the student section and get some N-A-V-Y cheers going on. But I’m not sure they would follow me if I led a Navy cheer.
“But we’re slowly becoming Toledo fans now that our daughter is here. Actually, I have a Toledo jersey out in the car so whoever wins, I’m going to put that jersey on. I have a Toledo hat just in case.”
UT edged Navy, winning 45-44 in double overtime.
Also at the game was Majewski’s sister Julie Caris of Lambertville, who said the whole family is thrilled about his promotion.
“Everybody’s pretty proud,” Caris said. “If he could get any boat, that’s pretty cool for him to get the Toledo I think.”
Mother Connie Paxton agreed.
“We are all very proud of his accomplishments in life,” Paxton said. “When I signed his papers for him to join the Navy, I never imagined him ever going this far in life. We are all very proud of everything he has ever done. I feel that he did this all on his own with the backing from a whole lot of family and friends.”
Also wishing him luck, Paxton said, are father and stepmother Jim and Joann Majewski; late stepfather Marvin Paxton; grandparents Jean Cox and the late Ray Cox; siblings Steve and Monique Majewski, Jillian Majewski and Jenna Majewski; stepsiblings Tami Paxton, Corey Paxton, Joe Rybka and Jason Rybka; nephews Gabe Caris and Alex Majewski; and niece Emma Majewski.