Susan Hippen

Retired Navy Master Chief and Democratic Candidate for Delegate

Susan retired as a Master Chief Petty Officer (E-9), the top of the enlisted ranks, after 25 years of active-duty. She was one of three women Master Chiefs at Naval Air Station Oceana and the only one of color.

Susan is the youngest of 4 kids, born in Cleveland, Ohio. The value of family was emphasized in the home. Her father was an abusive alcoholic. Thus, the family dynamic was complicated. By the time Susan graduated from high school, she had attended 8 different schools. Her parents divorced the summer before her senior year of high school. She and her mother moved to her uncle’s home in Philadelphia, where she graduated from Roxborough High School. 

After attending two years of college, Susan saw that the financial burden of her school loans was extremely burdensome. So, she decided to enlist in the military to earn money for college.

Working as a Navy aviation electronics technician, she advanced quickly. Soon she found herself in love with a great guy, Bruce Hippen. They married while stationed in Puerto Rico. Little did they know of the difficulties of being an interracial couple in the mid-1980s. Their love carried them though it all. 

After three and a half years of marriage, Bruce died while on active duty. His death occurred just 18 months after her father succumbed to complications of alcoholism. Susan found herself a widow just three weeks before her reenlistment. She decided to stay in the Navy and make it a career. 

Susan’s Navy career allowed her to travel all over the world including living in Spain for four years. She was deployed on the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln, working on the flight deck, and served three years as crew onboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt.

Susan enjoyed visiting ports like Hong Kong, Singapore, Nova Scotia, Crete, Greece, Israel, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, mainland Italy, Sicily, Bahrain, Honolulu, and her grandfather’s homeland of Bermuda. She even crossed the Equator and earned the coveted title of Shellback.

Life in the Navy gave her several opportunities. She completed a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Information Systems. She instructed Sailors on Navy Rights and Responsibilities. She counseled Sailors identified with drug and alcohol issues. She was trained by the Internal Revenue Service and volunteered as an Income Tax Preparer. She became a Navy instructor and led the east coast Sailors and Marines who taught all aircraft maintenance on Tomcat and Hornet aircraft.

During her Navy career, Susan took her two nephews into her home while her sister transitioned to a city and a new job. Raising 8- and 11-year-old boys was challenging but very gratifying.

Upon her retirement from the Navy, Susan chose to remain in Virginia Beach and call it home. She moved her mother into her home and cared for her until her death four years later.

Susan has kept busy since her retirement from the Navy. She continued volunteering as a tax preparer for Virginia Beach citizens. She became more active in her local church as a choir member, catechist, and lector. She was already a member of the Lynnhaven Parish Chapter of Daughters of the American Revolution. 

She served as the chapter chaplain and the Eastern Division Vice Chair for the DAR Service for Veterans Committee. She coached her nephew’s soccer team and was a very vocal fan for another nephew’s baseball team. Susan even became a poll worker for the city of Virginia Beach.

Susan joined her civic league and realized that everything is political. She began volunteering with local Democratic campaigns and joined her local committee. She served as Vice Chair and Secretary. 

Once again, Susan found herself taking care of family members. Her two great-nephews lived in her home for a couple of years. She oversaw the boys’ homework, took them to soccer practices, coached a team of 7- and 8-year old boys, introduced one to little league baseball, attended music concerts, held birthday parties, and more.

Susan continued to serve veterans by applying for and being appointed to the Virginia Board of Veterans Services for two terms.

In 2019 Susan went to Richmond and worked as a Session Legislative Assistant to Delegate Convirs-Fowler. Known for her civic involvement, she frequently speaks on issues before Virginia Beach City Council and the Virginia Beach School Board.

Today you will find Susan assisting with her nephews and great-nephews. Her brother and third fur baby Bobby reside with her. 

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