Charles Altman was born near Cleveland, Ohio. He participated in track and field in high school and was one of the top pole vaulters in Ohio. After graduating from high school, Altman attended Miami University and the University of Toledo, where he earned an engineering degree. After college, Altman decided to pursue a commission in the Navy. He was influenced by a few of his high school friends who joined the military, his desire to serve and his appreciation for the uniform and what it stood for.
Altman began his naval career at the Aviation Officer Candidate School in Pensacola, Florida. He eventually became a P-3 Orion flight officer. Altman first served with Patrol Squadron 22 (VP-22) at Barbers Point, Hawaii, where he also qualified as an aircraft mission commander. Subsequent assignments took him to Alaska, the Philippines, Diego Garcia and various countries in eastern Asia. In the late 1980s, Altman reported to Command Task Force 72, located in Japan, to serve as a Japanese liaison officer.
When Operation Desert Shield began in 1990, Altman reported to USS America aircraft carrier. He served as a catapult and arresting gear officer for launching and recovering aircraft flying in Operation Desert Storm. Altman said working aboard USS America was his most thrilling operational job, calling it “extraordinarily exciting.”
After the Gulf War, Altman completed a department head tour with Patrol Squadron 9 (VP-9) in Hawaii. He then served as the officer in charge of Patrol Squadron Det-1 in North Island, California. In the late 1990s, Altman reported to the Defense Intelligence Agency, where he received attaché training and served as a naval attaché for three years in Cairo and Tel Aviv, Israel. During this tour, he also served as the military assistant to the principal deputy under secretary of defense in the Middle East during the Iraq War.
During his last years in the Navy, Altman served as a professor and associate dean of academics at the Marine Corps War College. He retired in 2011 with the rank of commander. During his service, Altman received a Legion of Merit, a Defense Meritorious Service Medal, two Meritorious Service Medals, two Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medals and two Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medals.
In 2016, Altman completed a doctor of philosophy in education at the University of Minnesota. Afterward, he became an instructor at the U.S. Naval War College, Naval Leadership and Ethics Center, where he currently works. Additionally, Altman serves part-time as the director of the University of Minnesota MBA Military and Veterans Program in the Carlson School of Management.
Altman resides in Woodbury, Minnesota, with his wife Shellea and one of their three children.
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