Mario Vittone, Director – VLinc Maritime
Mr. Vittone has over twenty-two years of service in the U.S. Navy and Coast Guard. His first experience with at-sea emergencies came as ship’s company aboard the USS Coral Sea, a WWII-era aircraft carrier. Joining the Coast Guard in 1991, he worked at Training Center Cape May before transferring to the Cutter Point Franklin as a helmsman and small boat coxswain. He graduated from Helicopter Rescue Swimmer School in 1994 and began his career as a rescue swimmer with two tours at Air Station Elizabeth City, one at Air Station New Orleans, then finally as an instructor and course developer at the Aviation Technical Training Center in Elizabeth City, NC. He recently retired from the U.S. Coast Guard following four years as a vessel inspector and accident investigator in Norfolk, Virginia.
Mario is a leading expert on immersion hypothermia, drowning, sea survival, and safety at sea. His writing has appeared in Yachting Magazine, SaltWater Sportsman, MotorBoating Magazine, Lifelines, On-Scene, and Reader’s Digest. His work on drowning prevention and cold water safety has been translated into 15 languages and read by tens of millions around the world. He has developed and delivered courses for municipal rescue teams and the military on search and rescue tactics and open ocean survival. In 2007, he was named as the Coast Guard Active Duty Enlisted Person of the Year and was named as the 2009 recipient of the Alex Haley Award for Journalism.
Thomas Bell, Chief Executive Officer – VLinc Corporation
Mr. Bell has over thirty years of experience in military aircraft systems, logistics, and support services. After graduating from Clemson University in 1969 in Agricultural Engineering, he fulfilled his obligation as an Army ROTC student and accepted a commission as a 2nd lieutenant. Although slated for training as an Armor Branch officer, Army Aviation captured his imagination and he was accepted for Army aviation training.
After graduation from Army flight training, the assignment was the Republic of Vietnam. There he served, and survived, as an Air Cavalry Scout pilot. Following a brief assignment at Fort Hood, Texas, it was Korea as the next assignment. There he served as commanding officer of a small training detachment for a year, he returned to Fort Knox, Kentucky, to assist in training development and attend the Army’s Advanced Officer Armor Course. He left Army active duty in 1977, and accepted a position with Texas Instruments as a production supervisor and field sales engineer. Army awards include the Silver Star, Purple Heart, Bronze Star, Air Medal, and the Vietnam Cross of Gallantry with Palm.
The call of aviation was strong, and Tom left Texas Instruments in 1979 to accept a direct commission in the U.S. Coast Guard as a helicopter pilot. Over the next twenty-two years, he served in the Pacific Northwest, Miami, Florida, and attended graduate school at Clemson University.
Following award of his Master of Science degree in Electrical and Computer Engineering, he was stationed at the USCG Aircraft Repair & Supply Center. There he served as project officer on numerous aircraft improvement projects, and transitioned to the HU-25 Falcon. Following tours as the aviation engineer at Air Station San Diego, and in Coast Guard Headquarters within G-SEA, he retired in 2000. Since then he has worked with Premier Technology Group, CACI, Inc., and as an independent consultant associated with Booz Allen Hamilton (BAH), Inc. He leveraged his over thirty years of direct experience in the area of military aviation systems logistics and systems, both within and outside the USCG, to provide expert aviation systems engineering support primarily in the areas of C4ISR systems development and acquisition.
Since 2011, Tom has been employed as a Senior Systems Development Scientist for the United States Coast Guard Aviation Systems Acquisition Program.
Charlie Harris, Chief Operating Officer – VLinc Corporation
Mr. Harris has over 35 years of hands-on and executive level experience in project and program management, process engineering, financial and logistics systems management including 17 years of maritime fleet aircraft experience. A graduate of the US Coast Guard Academy, Mr. Harris served for 26 years in the Coast Guard, including a noteworthy command as the head of aviation engineering and logistics. Subsequent to that career he worked on a variety of projects including multi-million dollar capital investment efforts, civil infrastructure expansion projects, and logistics optimization projects for a wide array of companies including large system integrators, civil engineering firms, and aerospace manufacturers.
While in the Coast Guard, Mr. Harris initiated a major organizational and acquisition reengineering effort at the Air Logistics Center in Elizabeth City, NC as well as across the USCG Aviation Sector. He directed the adoption of a performance-based business model by adopting an Affordable Readiness construct, optimizing resource allocation to better serve Coast Guard operational units. The resulting success served as the initiative for the Coast Guard’s Modernization and Transformation efforts. He has served as a Subject Matter Expert in assisting that organization’s execution plan.
Mr. Harris has likewise served in a variety of consulting roles with other government agencies, providing program and logistics management expertise. He has provided business development expertise for science and technology companies and to an international aerospace organization.