Spouse of Navy Gunner’s Mate Chief Richard Edmondson
Maritime Prepositioning Ship Squadron One
While helping to set up the homecoming ceremony for her husband’s submarine, USS Jacksonville (SSN 699), 10 years ago, Kris Edmondson decided to put her then seven-year-old twin girls Dakota and Danielle in a phone booth near the Norfolk Naval Station pier because of the cold weather. As her husband’s sub was returning to port, fire engines drove down the pier with their sirens screaming.
Kris was mortified when a security officer started yelling, “Did someone call 911?” Those someones were the twins, and Kris listened patiently to the lecture about not letting her children play in a phone booth before the fire trucks drove off.
“I said to the girls, ‘Wait until your dad comes off the boat!’ Raising twins is always entertaining though,” Kris joked. “Now the girls are 17. I think my husband took on a two-year, forward-deployed assignment to avoid having to teach them how to drive.”
Her husband, Navy Gunner’s Mate Chief Richard Edmondson, currently assigned to Maritime Prepositioning Ship Squadron One (MPSRON One), started off his career as a torpedoman in the submarine community. Shortly after they were married 18 years ago, Kris had the opportunity to attend a dependents’ day cruise on board USS Daniel Webster (SSBN 626) to learn about Edmondson’s job first hand.
“I found out a lot about his job,” Kris explained. “I got to see where he ate and slept and worked. I also got to experience the movement of the sub. I had just found out I was pregnant. I wouldn’t recommend going on a ship when you’re pregnant, because I was so sick. I definitely had a new appreciation for his job.”
Kris moved into the role of wife and mother and went on to help with the homeport change of USS Phoenix (SSN 702) as her first volunteer effort with her husband’s command. She went on to hold positions as command ombudsman for three other commands, including Jacksonville in Norfolk.
“When my husband checked on board the Jacksonville in 1998,” Kris remembered, “the command master chief told him he was looking for a spouse to head up the family support group. So he volunteered me on the spot. I applied for the position and was selected.”
Next, Kris became the ombudsman for USS Maine’s (SSBN 741) Gold Team in King’s Bay, Ga., and then for the Trident Refit Facility, also at King’s Bay. While living in Georgia, Kris helped pilot several Fleet and Family Service Center programs, became a team leader for COMPASS Kings Bay, which orchestrated a spouse mentoring program, and helped pilot Marine Corps programs in the area as well.
She was then a phone tree caller for USS Hyman G. Rickover (SSN 709) in Norfolk, but about six months into the assignment, Edmondson left the ship with a back injury. After being medically cleared, he was assigned to USS Newport News (SSN 750), where Kris became the vice president of the Family Support Group.
During his assignment aboard Newport News, Edmondson re-injured his back, returning early from a deployment. He was forced to switch over to the surface Navy, receiving a direct conversion from torpedoman to gunner’s mate.
“It was difficult going away from the security of the community we had come to know so well,” Kris explained. “It was really a challenge and something different to us.”
Edmondson is currently in the middle of his 16th deployment on board USNS 2nd Lt. John P. Bobo (T-AK 3008), one of MPSRON One’s ships, which is forward-deployed to the Mediterranean Sea and does not have a program requiring an ombudsman. So instead, Kris has taken a job with the Fleet and Family Service Center at Naval Amphibious Base Little Creek, which allows her to continue to work with Navy families as a deployment specialist and ombudsman coordinator. Kris also works with the Hampton Roads Ombudsman Assembly, training ombudsman and assisting the chairperson.
Her experience and efforts led to an invitation to appear before the House Armed Services Committee as the representative for Navy families.
“I talked to the committee about quality of life issues,” Kris explained, “such as how schools across the country should standardize their curriculum to ease the burden of moving from state to state, and how daycare should be offered to spouses when their service member is deployed, so it can be easier to do things like attend a workshop.”
Looking back on her career working with Navy families, Kris realizes that her desire to reach out is a result of growing up in a Navy family. Her father spent 26 years as a ship’s serviceman, while her mother dedicated herself to volunteer work.
“My mother’s strength, courage and selfless commitment to family and community have always been an inspiration and guide in my life as a military spouse,” Kris said. “I would like to dedicate my nomination for this honor to my mother, Marie Black. I believe military spouses not only enhance the military community, but the communities in which we live as well.”
Kris has helped her communities by volunteering for activities through her daughters’ schools. She has been a Girl Scout troop leader, a Little League coach, and most recently, has worked with First Colonial High School’s band and NJROTC rifle team. Throughout the many years she had volunteered, her motivation comes back to one reason.
“I’m proud to be a military spouse and proud of my Sailor and proud of all of them,” Kris added. “So I volunteer to get the joy out of helping people. Just to see the smile on their face and to hear the thanks is what does it for me.”