By Rear Adm. John Fuller
Commander, Navy Region Hawaii and Naval Surface Group Middle Pacific

Our Navy continues to grow as a force, with our Sailors judged based on the content of the individual’s character, leadership and performance, not gender. Women’s History Month is an opportunity to consider how far we’ve come: Women and men working together – along with our families – are critical enablers and our greatest advantage.

Sailors aboard USS Hopper (DDG 70) return to Pearl Harbor following their 180-day independent deployment to the Arabian Gulf, Western Pacific and Indian Ocean, Feb. 21. (U.S. Navy photo/Released)
Sailors aboard USS Hopper (DDG 70) return to Pearl Harbor following their 180-day independent deployment to the Arabian Gulf, Western Pacific and Indian Ocean, Feb. 21. (U.S. Navy photo/Released)

Recently, the women and men of USS Hopper (DDG 70) returned from deployment. Welcome home!

USS Hopper returned to Pearl Harbor after representing us and our U.S. 3rd Fleet while operating in the 5th Fleet and 7th Fleet areas of operation – in the Western Pacific, Indian Ocean and Arabian Gulf and in points and ports in between.

The Sailors aboard Hopper worked with partners and friends, including the Royal Australian navy, building relationships and protecting America’s interests.

Their successful deployment marks another milestone in the ship’s proud history, and is a tribute USS Hopper’s namesake, Rear Adm. “Amazing” Grace Hopper.

On Dec. 7, 1941, when Grace Hopper heard about the attack on Pearl Harbor, she signed up to join the Navy.

Capt. Grace Hopper, head of the Navy Programming Language Section of the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations (OP 911F), discusses a phase of her work with a staff member, August 1976. (U.S. Navy photo by PH2 David C. MacLean/Released)
Capt. Grace Hopper, head of the Navy Programming Language Section of the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations (OP 911F), discusses a phase of her work with a staff member, August 1976. (U.S. Navy photo by PH2 David C. MacLean/Released)

The trouble was, the Navy had no female commissioned officers at the time. Hopper became one of the early WAVES: Women Appointed for Voluntary Emergency Services, and she worked at Harvard University on one of the first computers, helping in the war effort on the homefront.

Her success as a computer programmer and creator of COBOL language is legendary. And so is her toughness.

Grace Hopper faced an extra-thick glass ceiling. Others held her back because of her gender or because of rigid thinking and lack of imagination.

But, Grace Hopper prevailed. She demonstrated her forward-thinking vision and the drive and commitment to achieve her vision. She believed in science-based decision-making. And she demonstrated mental toughness.

Many years ago society, including our military, denied women the same opportunities as men. In recent decades, the Navy has opened more career opportunities regardless of gender. And today, women are embracing opportunities and seizing the success they can on a more level playing field.

Women shipmates – navigators, mechanics, federal workers, ship-drivers, aviators and many others – are working together as part of our One Navy Team.

We are stronger when we work together.

Amazing Grace passed away in 1992. Less than five years later the U.S. Navy commissioned USS Hopper (DDG 70).

Last November, President Barack Obama presented Hopper with a posthumous Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor.

President Barack Obama presents the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Deborah Murray, accepting on behalf of her great aunt, Grace Hopper, during a ceremony in the East Room of the White House, Nov. 28, 2016. (Official White House photo by Chuck Kennedy)
President Barack Obama presents the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Deborah Murray, accepting on behalf of her great aunt, Grace Hopper, during a ceremony in the East Room of the White House, Nov. 28, 2016. (Official White House photo by Chuck Kennedy)

 

President Obama said during the ceremony, “If Wright is flight and Edison is light, then Hopper is code.” We should all be inspired by Hopper, because she personified Honor, Courage, Commitment – and Toughness.

Editor’s note: USS Hopper is part of Naval Surface Group Middle Pacific, homeported at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam.

The guided-missile destroyer USS Hopper (DDG 70) makes a breakaway following a replenishment-at-sea with the fast combat support ship USNS Arctic (T-AOE 8) in the Arabian Gulf, Nov. 18, 2016. (U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Cole Keller/Released)
The guided-missile destroyer USS Hopper (DDG 70) makes a breakaway following a replenishment-at-sea with the fast combat support ship USNS Arctic (T-AOE 8) in the Arabian Gulf, Nov. 18, 2016. (U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Cole Keller/Released)