Phil Ehr was born on October 19, 1960 in Denver, Colorado. He excelled as a student athlete and student government leader at John F. Kennedy High School in Silver Spring, Maryland, before joining the Naval ROTC Unit at Tulane University in New Orleans. Phil left Tulane in the midst of family tragedy and reported to a U.S. Pacific Fleet cruiser in 1982 as a Seaman. Two years later, he had qualified as an enlisted surface warfare specialist and fire control technician, advanced to Petty Officer Second Class, earned a Bachelor of Science from the University of the State of New York, and received orders to Pensacola to pursue an officer’s commission and “Wings of Gold”.
Phil qualified as a naval flight officer and served in a variety of aviation leadership roles in the Pacific and Mediterranean regions. He flew reconnaissance missions in the Cold War, Desert Storm and post-9/11 operations; oversaw U.S. air operations in NATO's 78-day bombing campaign in the Balkans; organized operational intelligence support to non-DOD Federal agencies; improved electronic warfare readiness of Allied forces; and provided strategic advice to senior leaders in Washington and London. He is a Naval War College graduate, holds a Master of Science in International Relations from Troy State University and represented the Navy at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University. He completed his 26-year active duty career in 2008 at the rank of Commander.
Phil met Sue Jenny during his Pentagon tour and married in 1995. Sue joined Phil in Europe and they were blessed with two children, Jen and Claire, who are now making their ways as faithful, confident and wonderful young women.
Phil taught chess in schools and coached chess teams for 16 years, first volunteering in his children’s school, then progressing to less privileged schools. Phil was elected to four annual terms on the English Chess Federation board, serving two as chief executive, a role that required confronting Russian corruption in the World Chess Federation. He volunteered for six years as a group parent and production manager for his daughter’s youth opera, conducted war studies research at King’s College London and taught British officers in the United Kingdom’s Defense Academy part time for four years.
Phil returned to Pensacola in 2017 to defend our country and the Constitution, to uphold American ideals and advance the quality of life for everyone in Northwest Florida. He participates in community groups across Northwest Florida devoted to veterans, the environment, civil rights, civic engagement, small business and the Democratic Party.