At age 15, Milton Troy III got a taste of his future. It happened under the hood of his first car, a gift from his dad — a $100 Mercury Bobcat, white with a baby-blue interior.
“It was the ugliest car I ever saw,” Troy remembers. “It had a hole in the floor, and the door never closed right. It wouldn’t go 20 miles without overheating, so I always had to carry water and anti-freeze. Once on a date, I had to stop a couple of times driving to the movie theater.”
Troy’s father wisely understood that a needy Bobcat would give his son some basic training in planning and preparation.
The lesson served Troy well.
Today, he’s in charge of all support-related training for the U.S. Navy.
As commanding officer of the Navy’s Center for Service Support (CSS) in Newport, R.I., Capt. Troy and his team of 241 military and 113 civilian personnel develop and deliver plans and materials for 91 different Navy training courses. The work supports Navy instruction at 17 sites worldwide, graduating 54,300 students annually.
Troy’s command includes curriculum development and all training materials used in the Navy Supply Corps School (Newport); the Naval Technical Training Center (Meridian, Miss.); the Navy Service Support Advanced Training Command (Dam Neck, Va.); the Naval School of Music (Little Creek, Va.), and the Human Resources Center of Excellence (Newport).
Next year, Troy will also inherit training duties for men and women of the cloth — Navy blue cloth — with oversight of the Naval Chaplaincy School.
Troy’s CSS develops curriculum, manuals, training aids. These materials supply a global navy’s ever-evolving needs in logistics, administration, maintenance and materials management, media services, security management, support programs management, instructor certification, and general military training.
“We’re busy,” Troy (MBA ’02) says from his Newport office. “Like bees.
“We have multiple stakeholders in the Navy. All their requirements come through my team, and we manage existing courses of instruction and shape future requirements. These help ensure the Navy is properly trained to be ready and relevant to defend freedom.”
His humming CSS command is just the latest assignment in an amazingly varied career — 25 years of service and counting.
Capt. Milton Troy poses in front of a Sanford Stadium banner displayed in his office onboard Naval Station Newport. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Derien C. Luce)
Missions and medals
Capt. Troy’s achievements have required a man with the capabilities and versatility of a Swiss Army knife … only a Navy version.
He served at sea as a disbursing/sales officer, food services officer, and supply officer on the USS Normandy. He was the Naval Logistics Advisor to the Kuwaiti Navy. He joined a combat zone squadron in Iraq whose mission was to protect soldiers from improvised explosive devices. He commanded an expeditionary support unit that aided explosive ordnance disposal units along the East Coast and in deployment.
Decorations and medals splash his chest — the Legion of Merit, Meritorious Service Medal (five awards), and a host of others.
Onshore, just before his Terry experience, he served a hitch in Athens as a Navy food service instructor, leadership instructor, and educational counselor. (He reported for duty at the Navy Supply Corps School, now UGA’s Health Sciences Campus.)
Troy later held leadership roles in nuclear resource management and customer value management departments at what was then the Naval Inventory Control Point in Mechanicsburg, Pa., and he led teams in fleet services and fleet financial management services at U.S. Fleet Forces Command. He went to the U.S. Naval War College and graduated with a Masters of Arts in National Security and Strategic Studies.
Just before the CSS training command, he worked in the Pentagon for the Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Financial Management and Comptrollers.
He credits this gleaming military success to … guess what? … Good training. That and the support of his teams and commanders, plus his beloved family and a network of close friends he calls his “circle of trust.”
Troy holds a special regard for Terry College of Business.
“Getting through the MBA program at Terry,” he says, “helped shape my critical thinking for every military assignment since graduation.
“Critical thinking is key to any career, but specifically in the military when faced with various operational situations in peacetime or in conflict … in the Pentagon or on a warship. The rigor of my Terry College experience prepared me very well to be adaptable in all those environments.”
In 2012, the University of Georgia recognized Troy’s personal, professional, and philanthropic achievements by naming him one of its 40 Under 40 honorees. The designation is given annually to 40 outstanding UGA alumni younger than 40 years of age.
Service runs deep in Troy’s family.
His dad, Milton “Stoney” Troy II, put in multiple tours in Vietnam and retired from the U.S. Army as a lieutenant colonel. Troy’s cousins wore uniforms. And on his Iraq tour, Troy met a female army officer. She and Milton married in 2013 after a three-year courtship, and they have a 4-year-old son, Micah.
Kecia Troy, now a colonel assigned to the Pentagon, sees Milton as a natural leader others want to follow.
“People are drawn to his personality,” she says. “They want to work with him.
“Milton has a unique ability to be firm and get results, yet still show sympathy and empathy. Too often, leaders are so mission-focused that they overlook the importance of establishing trust and confidence among people in their organizations. Milton understands that the personal aspects of team-building are critical, up and down his chain of command.”
Though they serve in different branches of the military, they share a common alliance.
“We understand enough about one another’s service and the pressures of being officers to have a conversation without competition,” Kecia says.
“Milton and I can be open, honest and reflective. At the end of the day, we make our own decisions — he goes Navy, I go Army. We have deep mutual respect for one another’s duties and abilities.”
Capt. Milton Troy discusses the daily commander’s critical information requirements reports with Chief Retail Services Specialist Thandiwe Hudson. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Derien C. Luce)
Military life began the day Troy was born — at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C. His father served there as personnel officer, and the family lived in nearby Wheaton, Maryland.
During his preschool days, he showed an early independent streak.
“He didn’t want his mommy to walk him into class,” remembers that mommy, Peggie Troy, with a little sigh. “All the other kids went in holding their mommy’s hands, but Milton begged me not to.”
When Troy was age 3, his father was assigned to duty in Columbia, S.C. At age 6, the family transferred again, to San Antonio, Texas. The gypsy military life of his early years taught Troy resiliency. His natural friendliness and outgoing nature proved to be tremendous assets.
A church member in those early years called Troy “an old soul,” Peggie recalls. “She said he had a way with all the older people.”
An elementary school teacher sent home a note: Milton’s a wonderful young man, so considerate. Having a child like this makes teaching worthwhile.
Until he reached his mid-teens, Troy’s close family knew him as “Scooby” to distinguish him from the two other Milton Troys – father (Stoney) and grandfather. (Troy’s oldest son, Milton “Dooby” Troy IV, attends Savannah College of Art and Design in Atlanta.) The “Scooby” nickname came from a flashy dancer, Jimmy “Scoo B Doo” Foster, whom the family enjoyed watching on Soul Train, the syndicated TV show. Young Milton himself knew a few moves; today, he confesses, “If there’s a dance floor, I’m probably out on it.”
Stoney Troy retired in 1983, and the family moved back to dad’s and mom’s hometown, Mullins, S.C., about 45 minutes inland from Myrtle Beach. Troy was 10. After he weathered the culture shock of moving to a small town, he took to life in the Pee Dee region with ease.
Milton and his brothers were active young men. They enjoyed outdoor activity, popping firecrackers, among other things … they once set a field on fire. Troy made top grades. He played trumpet in the high school marching band. He performed as a DJ, and he had a band with a rapper and two dancers. He ran for office in high school, each year winning election as president of his class. Milton credits much of his professional success to those foundational years in Mullins.
When he graduated, he wanted to go to Morehouse College, in Atlanta, an expensive proposition for a retired military family. At his father’s coaxing, the youngster sized up the university’s Navy ROTC (Reserve Officer Training Corps) program, which offered tuition in return for a commitment to military service. Troy enrolled in 1991.
Troy’s dad helped with the ROTC decision. Stoney Troy, the veteran, chuckles when he recalls the discussion.
“He was saying, Dad, I don’t know if I’ll want a military career. I told him, I never said you had to be a career military man. The ROTC scholarship is a means to an end.
“When his time was up, and it was payback time for money, Milt looked around and thought, This thing ain’t too bad. That was 25 years ago, and he’s still in uniform.”
After initial training and the Terry MBA in Athens, Troy shipped out aboard the USS Normandy in 1996, where he served under Lt. Commander Mike Rutten, the supply officer. Rutten provisioned everything on the ship, in his words, “from beans to bullets.”
Troy found a mentor, a new member of his circle of trust.
“I knew very early on Troy was a keeper,” Rutten says. “When I made an assignment, he was all over it. He’d march off and get everything done, no eye-rolling, no huffing and puffing. He was professional.”
Near the end of his commitment to the Navy, Troy talked with the Lt. Commander about goals. The talk charted a new course for his life.
“Milton told me,” Rutten recalls, “I think I’m getting out of the Navy.
“I looked him dead in the eye and said, “The hell you are. The Navy needs officers like you. You have all the potential to become an admiral. You’re staying in.”
Troy stayed. He’s climbed the ranks.
“It’s unbelievable how this guy keeps winning,” Rutten says. “Every job he’s taken in his career has steeped him in focus, accountability, responsibility. He’s never taken a tour off, never asked for easy duty. He’s always taken the hardest jobs, the ones most competitively assigned.
“He’s the guy that has it all.”
Guidance from Rutten, his parents, and others along the way inspires Troy. He sees a chance to leave a legacy of his own, and it keeps him energized from his 5 a.m. wake-up to his late-night problem-solving calls with colleagues.
For years, Troy’s been active in Omega Psi Phi, the prominent national black fraternity. He’s held various leadership positions, including a chapter president’s role when he was stationed in Virginia. Efforts he led to feed the homeless and do other social good brought the chapter a district award from the fraternity in 2014. At the international level, Omega Psi Phi recognized Troy as navy officer recipient of the Military Salute Service Award at the 2018 Grand Conclave in New Orleans.
Troy has paid forward the kind of good faith Lt. Commander Rutten placed in him at that pivotal stay-or-go moment in his Navy career.
In 2011, Troy received a phone call from Richard Diggs, a youngster from South Carolina whose aunt knew Troy’s family. Diggs didn’t quite know what to do with himself after playing college football and doing some amateur boxing. He wanted a life with meaning.
Troy listened to the young man. He gave him straight talk about Navy life. A year or so later, he made time to meet Diggs face-to-face in Virginia. He became a willing mentor to a kid he believed had potential.
“Before I enlisted,” Diggs says, “Capt. Troy told me, If your goal is to be supply corps officer, I’ll help you get there. He set up a path for me to walk, gave me tips along the way, checked on me for updates.”
Today, that youngster is Lt. Richard Diggs, commissioned a Navy officer in 2015. Based out of Newport News, Va., Diggs serves on the USS George Washington, a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier. He’s the supply corps officer, in charge of maintaining a meticulous inventory of mission-essential repair parts that support the operations of that mighty warship.
“Capt. Troy’s mentorship has been about much more than professional advancement,” insists Diggs.
“He took me from a voice he didn’t know in a phone booth … took me under his wing … and literally saved my life. What’s it done? I’m a father, I have kids I’m responsible for, lives I care for. I’m in a place where I can care for my family for the rest of my life, and Capt. Troy is super-responsible for that.
“He changed my world, and he changed my life.”
Milton Troy III, one of Terry College’s finest, stands tall. Every day is a mission accomplished.