To celebrate Veterans Day, EM highlights former service members who have joined EM on their journey in civilian work-life.

Name and what you do at EM?

Kenneth Princen, Assistant Manager, Office of the National TRU Program Waste Certification and Disposal, Carlsbad Field Office

What branch did you serve in; when; where stationed? How many years of service?

I served nine years in the U.S. Marine Corps, stationed at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and Camp Lejeune, N.C.. I worked in infantry and reconnaissance, attaining the rank of staff sergeant.

I served five years in the U.S. Navy, stationed at Naval Base Kitsap in Bremerton, Washington. I worked as a submarine warfare officer attaining the rank of lieutenant.


Kenneth Princen photo
Ken Princen at Marine Combat Training 1990

Most memorable event/moment during your service?

While serving in Cuba, I monitored the boundary between the base and Cuba. Both sides were covered by minefields, yet refugees would risk everything to defect to the United States for the chance at a better life. Later on in my tour, we experienced the Haitian refugee crisis and I also worked in the camps. As a young Marine, I saw both the hardship these refugees faced firsthand, and the ideals my country represented through their eyes. After one particular saddening moment where I helplessly watched individuals die, I knew I wanted to do even more with my life. I wanted to make a difference.

How has your military service helped prepare you for the job you do in EM?

The military helped me get an education at Oregon State University. They instilled core values of honor, courage, and commitment in me. I learned leadership from the very beginning and adopted the motto “Mission First, People Always.” Those lessons and experiences have always been with me. These experiences prepared me for a later career in EM. 

When did you begin working for EM and what got you interested in the cleanup mission?

After 14 years of military service, I wanted to continue serving my country. This led me to the Carlsbad Field Office, where I began as a facility representative. Three years later, I became an assistant manager. I was drawn to the EM cleanup mission because I saw the importance of the effort to our country, and I wanted to be involved with something meaningful. I am still here, though, largely because of the people I now work with. I am motivated by their determination and hard work. As a leader, I enjoy aiding in their development. I feel EM is where I will finish my legacy of service and pass it on to others.


Read more EM Veteran Interviews