PORT ST. LUCIE PEOPLE
THE VETERANS ADVOCATE
BY ELLEN GILLETTE
Jordan Kahle was born at the Naval Submarine Base in
After injuring his shoulder while stationed on his submarine,
he was treated with surgery, therapy and injections.
Preparation for an upcoming deployment required a more
thorough medical examination.
“The last thing you want is to have to do a medical evacuation
during a mission.”
The exam not only changed his plans, but also his life. Expecting
40 Port St. Lucie Magazine
another shot, Kahle was placed on light duty.
“I couldn’t deploy with my guys,” he says. “It was depressing,
Eventually, Kahle was medically separated from the Navy.
Groton, Connecticut, but his father’s postings kept the
“I went to 17 different schools,” Kahle says.
Three years in the Melbourne/Palm Bay area was long
enough for high school — the longest stretch he’d lived at
A single dad since Jordan was young, his father playfully
called him Nub, Navy slang for a new crewmember, a nonuseful
body. One night, he sat the boy down inside the radio
room of his sub.
“He said not to touch anything but as soon as he walked
out, my fingers were on every button and switch in the
place,” Kahle says.
At Melbourne High School, Kahle was in “every club there
was” — National Honor Society, Beta Club, Key Club — and
also Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps. He volunteered
at a soup kitchen, receiving a Golden Rule award from President
Although nominated by Sen. Connie Mack, Kahle did not
get a U.S. Naval Academy appointment, attending Rensselaer
Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York, on a U.S. Army
scholarship instead. When he learned that he would be assigned
to light infantry in Bosnia, however, he rescinded his
scholarship and enlisted in the Navy.
“Basic training was honestly easy, after JROTC,” Kahle says.
“It’s about self-discipline, self-responsibility, following directions.
You learn to sleep standing up, sleep while marching.”
Kahle earned the highest GPA in his class, learning signals,
flags, knots, insignia and swimming while marching
everywhere. Once he was stationed on a submarine, and he
remembered certain lifesaving drills as comical.
“If something goes wrong that deep down, there’s a good
chance you won’t live.”
He almost didn’t get on a sub at all.
Kahle’s contract gave him a submarine designation if
he was medically qualified, but he was assigned to an aircraft
“I’d already spent a year and a half at nuclear propulsion
training school informally called prototype,” he explains. “I
called Dad. I called my Uncle Mike, just retired. ‘Stand your
ground,’ he said. I was sure I’d either be laughed out of the
master chief’s office or get my ass beat.”
Kahle respectfully presented his logic: He was medically
qualified. Unless he was reassigned, the Navy was in breach.
“I sweated bullets while the master chief conferred with
others for what seemed like hours. In the end, he said, ‘What
sub do you want?’ ”
During his first two years after basic, Kahle spent 600 days
at sea. He crossed the Arctic Circle 11 times and saw the
world — France, Crete, Bahrain, Dubai — but living conditions
were challenging. Hot racking refers to a three sailorsto
two beds ratio, with one rotating off in six-hour shifts.
Later, as chief, conditions improved but even then, “You’d
get yelled at if you showered longer than three minutes.”
Kahle also taught prototype in South Carolina, where he
met his wife.
Jordan Kahle’s son, Tyler, and service dog, Nova, sometimes accompany
Kahle while he conducts business from the Veterans Center of Excellence
on Indian River State College’s Pruitt Campus.