A native of Sacramento, CA, Gunner Stemler entered the Navy in September 1974 and completed basic training at Recruit Training Center, San Diego CA in November. While in boot camp he was given the opportunity to attend AO “A” school in Millington, TN an opportunity he initially declined but later accepted. This one decision turned out to be the best career altering decision he ever made. Upon completion of AO “A” school he was ordered to the USS RANGER (CV-61) in Alameda, CA. It was during the USS RANGER’s 1976 WESTPAC deployment that he met his future wife, Amy. It was this meeting that led him to cross deck to the USS CONSTELLATION (CV-64) in 1977 and make a second WESTPAC. During this deployment and after getting to know Amy better they decided to marry in September 1977 and have now been married 43 years.
His other afloat platforms included the USS PELELIU (LHA-5), USS INDEPENDENCE (CV62), USS ESSEX (LHD-2), and USS BELLAU WOOD (LHA-3). His squadron tours included VP-31, Moffett Field, CA; VP-1, Barbers Point, HI; VF-11, NAS Miramar, CA; and VF-101, NAS Miramar, CA. His shore duty tours included Company Commander, NRTC San Diego, CA, and Staff Weapons Logistics Manager, COMFAIRWESTPAC, Atsugi, Japan. Schools he completed included AO (C7) school in Millington, TN, Senior Enlisted Academy, Rhode Island, and Limited Duty Officer/Chief Warrant Officer Indoctrination School, Pensacola, FL.
In February 2001 he retired from 26.5 years of active duty service and started his civilian career by putting his vast amount of Aviation Ordnance experience to use as an Ordnance Technical Consultant with Envisioneering and as Raytheon Technical Services Guam’s, Ordnance Annex Superintendent. While in Guam, his proactive management played a key role in Naval Magazine Guam passing its first successful Explosives Safety Inspection in over ten years. In 2002, he received an offer to accept a Civil Service position in San Diego, CA as an Explosives Safety Officer. Realizing this would bring him back to San Diego where he owned a house, he accepted the offer. During his 16 years as an Explosives Safety Officer he held letters of designations at Naval Air Facility El Centro, Naval Base Coronado, Naval Base Point Loma, Naval Post Graduate School Monterey, CA, and Naval Special Warfare Center, Naval Base Coronado, CA. Also for 10 years he held the Explosives Safety Supervisor position for the San Diego Metropolitan Area which at the time was the only authorized GS-12 billet. Notable achievements include successfully passing over 15 Explosives Safety Inspections, submitting or updating over 30 explosives site approvals, and establishing explosives safety file systems, forms, instructions, and assessment methods that are still widely used today. In 2016, he became the first Explosives Safety Officer (Series 0017) hired by a Naval Special Warfare command. He retired from Civil Service in June 2020 and was awarded the Department of the Navy Meritorious Civilian Service Award which is the third highest Navy civilian award. This was the first award of its kind given to a Naval Special Warfare Center civilian in the past eight years.
On his off time, he is pro-active in the Association of Aviation Ordnanceman Chapter EIGHT. For the past five years he has been the Chapter’s Secretary/Treasurer. His detailed Chapter Minutes and accurate accounting of funds have been major contributing factors in Chapter accountability. Four years ago he established a special fund in which Chapter members are recognized at the end of each year with a cash award and certificate for their proactive attendance, involvement, and contributions. He also strives to make the Chapter 50/50 drawing more fun by donating a few Aviation Ordnance memorabilia items after the initial draw in order to give participants a second chance. He has also helped mentor several Chapter Presidents who have gone on to be selected as a Chief, LDO or CWO.
Another one of his passions is a computer web-based e-commerce store he started in November 2003 and named Ordiemart as a way to cater to the Navy and Marine Corps Aviation Ordnance community. He started Ordiemart mostly out of frustration for the lack of AO memorabilia available at the time, especially coins. His intent was never for Ordiemart to grow as it has in the past 17 years but to keep it small; however, due to the huge response he has had from our community and their many requests for more and different items, he has done his best to accommodate. Today, Ordiemart carries over 80 different AO items from coins, t-shirts, hats, hoodies, belt buckles, patches, stickers, and mugs. Some items are sold with all profits going to AAO Chapter 8 and he regularly donates items to the Chapter or at the AAO Convention where they get auctioned off. The money others have earned from his donations are in the several thousands. He also allows and encourages 3rd Party vendors who want to sell so that they can sell their items without any cost to them. His thoughts are if we can make more items available for the AO community in one place, it’s a win-win for us all. Today, several other AO entrepreneurs have sprung up to sell mostly apparel items. He looks at this as a wonderful time because to him it means that new blood is getting ready to carry the torch on something he started 17 years ago. In reality, it really started back in 1974 when in boot camp he decided to become an Aviation Ordnancemen which was the best career altering decision in his life.