There’s a U.S. Navy ship unlike most floating in the waters of Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam. It’s a Navy warship that honors the name of a female who has set the standard of excellence for those who have followed.
During this Women’s History Month of March, an Amarillo, Texas, sailor and 2011 Tascosa High School graduate is serving aboard USS Hopper, named for Rear Adm. Grace Hopper.
Petty Officer 2nd Class Alexis Morgan has served in the Navy for three years and works as a Navy boatswain’s mate, serving aboard the Pearl Harbor-based guided-missile destroyer.
Morgan credits success in the Navy to many of the lessons learned in Amarillo.
“I grew up in a close family and tend to reach out to others I feel need a hand,” said Morgan. “I try to do this for people I meet on the ship.”
The sailors’ jobs aboard USS Hopper are highly specialized, requiring dedication and skill. The jobs range from maintaining engines to handling weaponry along with a multitude of other assignments keeping the ship mission-ready at all times.
As a Navy boatswain’s mate, Morgan is responsible for managing the operations that help align ships, drive the boats, perform ship honors and ceremonies for the fallen and provide maintenance on board.
More than 300 sailors serve aboard the ship named for the pioneering computer scientist who served in the Navy for 43 years.
Though Rear Adm. Hopper joined the Naval Reserves in 1943 after being an associate professor of mathematics at Vassar College, retired from the Naval Reserve with the rank of commander at the end of 1966. She was recalled to active duty in August 1967 for a six-month period that turned into an indefinite assignment. From 1967 to 1977, Hopper served as the director of the Navy Programming Languages Group in the Navy’s Office of Information Systems Planning and was promoted to the rank of captain in 1973. Hopper was promoted to commodore by special Presidential appointment in 1983. In 1985, the rank of commodore was renamed rear admiral lower half. She retired from the Navy on August 14, 1986. Owing to the breadth of her accomplishments and her naval rank, she is sometimes referred to as “Amazing Grace.”
“It is great being on a warship because this is my home,” said Morgan. “Because of the maintenance we perform, it is us doing our part to make it happen and run well. This is my home away from home and I feel secure and safe here.”
Navy guided-missile destroyers are multi-mission ships, equipped with tomahawk missiles, torpedoes, guns and a phalanx close-in weapons systems, that can operate independently or as part of a larger group of ships at sea.
Being stationed in Pearl Harbor, often referred to as the gateway to the Pacific in defense circles, means Morgan is serving in a part of the world that is taking on new importance in America’s focus on rebuilding military readiness, strengthening alliances, and reforming business practices in support of the National Defense Strategy.
“Our priorities center on people, capabilities and processes, and will be achieved by our focus on speed, value, results and partnerships,” said Secretary of the Navy Richard V. Spencer. “Readiness, lethality and modernization are the requirements driving these priorities.”
The Pacific is home to more than 50 percent of the world’s population, many of the world’s largest and smallest economies, several of the world’s largest militaries, and many U.S. allies. The Navy has been pivotal in helping maintain peace and stability in the Pacific region for decades.
Though there are many ways for sailors to earn distinction in their command, community, and career, Morgan is most proud of earning Junior Sailor of the Year in 2018. JSOQ programs recognize the very best all-around sailors in paygrades E-1 through E-6. Sustained superior performance, leadership, self-improvement, command and community involvement, self-expression, military bearing, and appearance are all key facets of the best all-around sailors.
“I was so excited when I won it because I did not think I was capable of achieving that goal,” said Morgan. “I now know I have a voice that I did not know I had because I had not been in the military very long.”
Serving in the Navy is a continuing tradition of military service for Morgan, who has military ties with family members who have previously served. Morgan is honored to carry on that family tradition.
“My twin sister is in the Air Force and our uncle was Air Force ,” said Morgan. “I would carry on this legacy because I like the way it has changed me into the person I am today. This is a blessing and I never thought I would have the things I have now, like being on your own.”
As a member of one of the U.S. Navy’s most relied-upon assets, Morgan and other sailors know they are part of a legacy that will last beyond their lifetimes providing the Navy the nation needs.
“Defending our country is why I serve and I like that I am a female and doing things to help others to do their best and coming up with ideas to help us all move forward,” added Morgan.