It All Started Here … William Horstick

Published on January 29, 2018

When William Horstick graduated from Cecil College in 1984 with a visual communications degree in professional photography, he probably did not envision himself flying around the world in search of enemy submarines.

As a basketball teammate of Cecil’s current head coach and athletic director, Ed Durham, Horstick enjoyed the opportunity to travel all over the area to play other colleges. Little did he know at the time how far away from his career would take him.

Horstick, who was drawn to Cecil by its small size and the opportunity to play basketball while studying photography, was aiming to apply his skills to a publication such as Sports Illustrated or Life. Instead of capturing images of star athletes, celebrities and newsmakers, he ended up focusing his lens on underwater vessels and other potential threats.

A 1981 graduate of Dover High School in Delaware, Horstick returned home after leaving Cecil. While working as a framer and also setting up exhibits for an art gallery, which allowed him to sell some of his work, the self-described Air Force brat decided to join the Navy in May 1984. Hoping to serve as a photographer’s mate, Horstick enlisted without any guarantee of getting into the PH school, which would have trained him for the position.

Following recruit training that summer in Orlando, Florida, he found himself on the aircraft carrier USS Midway in Yokosuka, Japan. Horstick quickly established himself as a leader and was offered a Navy school; however, there still was not a spot in PH school available.

“Not wanting to wait any longer for advanced training, I volunteered to fly,” said Horstick. “When one door closes, another opens. I was on my way to see the world as a submarine hunter.”

After being trained to be an anti-submarine warfare specialist, he was deployed to the Middle East in 1988. Horstick describes his duty of flying nightly maritime patrol mission out in the Persian Gulf as finding and tracking real world, bad guy submarines. He was able to put his college major to use by photographing targets of interest and also managed to document his travels from a personal standpoint.

“I enjoyed my time at Cecil and took the photography skills I learned there all over the world,” said Horstick, “I brought my camera everywhere. I visited 20 different countries during my time in the Navy and was on a worldwide safari.”

Throughout his career, Horstick also found the time to continue his education. He earned a bachelor’s degree in education, training, and development through a program offered by Southern Illinois University Carbondale in San Diego and a master’s in business organization management from the University of La Verne.

Following 20 years and more than 3,000 hours of flight time, he retired from the Navy in 2005. Shortly thereafter, he began working for the Center for Seabees and Facilities Engineering, which trains U.S. Navy construction and facilities engineering professionals. After nine years with the CSFE, he was promoted to the Naval Surface War Center to serve as its training manager for a 30mm cannon system, a missile system, and visit, board, search and seizure training. Realizing that a picture is worth a thousand words, he uses photography to supplement his teachings.

Since spending the first 14 months of his Naval career on a ship in Japan, Horstick has resided in the San Francisco Bay area, San Diego, Jacksonville, Florida; and about an hour north of Los Angeles in Ventura County, California. Despite the time and distance, he continues to be grateful for Cecil College kick-starting his career.

“Cecil allowed me to become an adult and was the perfect place for me to start,” said Horstick. “I had to set my own schedule for attending classes and doing homework while managing the commitment of playing basketball. It made me grow up quickly.”

He continues to acknowledge the impact Cecil has had on his life. Horstick saved many pictures from his time as a student and has Cecil College photo albums on his Facebook and Instagram pages. Over the last couple of years, he has dropped by the college to take in his first Cecil basketball game since playing for the Seahawks and to participate in an exhibit in the Milburn Stone Gallery.

Considering the stressful assignments Horstick has had over his career, he strongly credits both the photography and basketball lessons he learned at Cecil in helping provide him with a pair of relaxing outlets. He still loves to shoot both pictures and basketballs and has been coaching his children’s teams for many years.