Thursday, September 20, 2007

Lysher heads up NSWCDD Z Dept.

John Lysher
According to medical science, when a healthy typical male’s resting pulse is taken it should run about 72 heart beats per minute. Anything less than 72 is thought to be above average to outstandingly physically fit. When John Lysher takes his pulse, it rarely registers more than 47.

The difference between ‘‘average male” and Lysher is due to competitive iron man triathlons in recorded times that barely stretch more than 12 hours; hilly cross-country marathons that run about three hours; and lap swimming almost three miles every other day at the Dahlgren Aquatic Center during the dark morning hours when most of Dahlgren’s workforce is still in bed.

The pulse and competitive athletic drive are indicative of a calm demeanor and steady determination that earned Lysher his recent promotion as head of the Asymmetric Defense Systems (Z) Dept. of the Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren Division. Still, Lysher credits much of his success to the people he works with.

‘‘There are consummate professionals here (NSWCDD),” he said. ‘‘They produce products that help our warfighters in the global war on terrorism ... they produce with a quick turn around, too. It’s been a real pleasure of mine to work with people like this because of the impact they make.”

Lysher has a long history with the people of Dahlgren. The son of a former NSWCDD employee (Leon Lysher), he is a native King George County product and often spent time on base as a young boy.

‘‘I’m originally from the Office Hall area of Dogue,” he said. ‘‘I did a lot of bow and rifle hunting and fishing around that area and went through school here in the county.”

Lysher has competed in triathalons for 12 years.
It was at King George High School that he discovered a passion for sports, first football and then track as a half mile specialist. In 1979, he set the Virginia State record for the half mile which stood more than five years. Following high school, Lysher played football and ran track for Randolph Macon College, then transferred to Virginia Tech where he picked up his bachelor’s degree in computer science. He later earned a master’s from George Mason and is currently pursuing further graduate studies in public administration.

‘‘I come from a fairly athletic family,” Lysher noted.

Indeed. One sister is a physical education teacher, another a physical therapist and his brother is a high school football coach. In the immediate family, his wife (Carol) is a former coach and teacher and currently serves the Stafford County School System as its health and physical education coordinator; son Jacob, 15, is a South Stafford High School cross-country runner and basketball team member; daughter Lindsey, 12, is active in sports as well; and son Luke, 11, recently placed first in a youth triathlon event in his age (10-11) group.

Lysher first joined NSWCDD in 1983 out of college, beginning in the division’s former Warfare Systems (J) Dept. He also spent four years with the Joint Warfare Analysis Center before coming back to NSWCDD in 2001. At Z Dept., he has held both branch and division head jobs focusing on research, development, test and evaluation of technologies to aid the Navy, its joint brother forces, and other government agencies in the global war on terror or other asymmetric threats to the nation.

‘‘We’re engaged in developing defensive systems and technologies,” he explained. ‘‘We work a lot with law enforcement and other-than-war entities as well as the joint armed forces that will use our products to defend against adversaries.”

Lysher said he heads up a Z Dept. workforce of approximately 365 professionals of whom the majority is either scientists or engineers. But he also said many of the workers at Z Dept. are other than technical.

‘‘Recently we’ve hired military veterans who were convalescing (from Walter Reed Army Hospital) because of their military and law enforcement experience,” he said. ‘‘We have variety of backgrounds here because of what we do ... for instance; we’re involved in helping counter drug as well as asymmetric defense and joint warfare systems and full spectrum operations.”

Some of the people he works with even run or swim with him.

‘‘I get to the pool about 5 a.m.,” he said, ‘‘and I often see Capt. (Sheila) Patterson there swimming already. We also have a group of us here at Z that do some running together.”

And you can bet that each one of them, like Lysher, have pulse rates considerably lower than the average human being.