The Supply Corps Experience, a New Way of Thinking

Choosing the Navy was an easy choice for me and choosing Supply Corps was an even easier choice. The hardest part was choosing the military. Similar to most American families, I had a few relatives who were enlisted in various branches but through high school and college I never considered the military. I was focused on joining the corporate world; so, I went to Temple University and earned my bachelor’s degree in finance with a specialization in Asian business and society.

ENS Amber Drayton

ENS Amber Drayton

After college, I moved to London and worked with a temporary work agency. It was a great experience that allowed me to gain diverse experience from places I would have never considered. This was the beginning of what I call “my wanderlust.” From that point on, I have craved work experiences that challenge and immerse me in new ways of thinking. That is why I chose the Navy. My experiences thus far have been varied, challenging, and fulfilling.

“I want a challenge.” That is one of the first things I said to Lt. Todd Duerheimer, the then Principal Assistant for Services, when I checked on board the USS George Washington (CVN 73). Lt. Duerheimer took me at my word and gave me the most difficult assignment I have been tasked with to date—S-5 Hotel Services Officer on a forward-deployed carrier. As with anything that is difficult, it was incredibly rewarding. I learned many life lessons from my Sailors, LCPOs, PAS, SUPPO, fellow officers, and the riders.

Customer service is something that is preached to us from the first day of Navy Supply Corps School and every day thereafter; but in my biased opinion nowhere is it used more than in Hotel Services. I became an expert on things I never imagined would be important for a Naval Officer to know. I now know how to get that ungodly ring out of the toilet, reprogram an electronic lock, house 75 influential members of society and 50 military exercise riders all at once, run a bar, and the difference between a 1 and 2 guard.

In this time, I have also enjoyed my first underway assignment. The main thing I came away with is that people are weird and they continue to get weirder the longer they are underway. Any officer can tell you at least five stories that will make you question their validity and laugh to tears. The best thing about underway is the amount of work that can be accomplished. Paperwork gets signed within hours not days, the subject matter expert is always nearby, and there is no better bonding experience with your fellow officers and Sailors. I was able to earn my Surface Warfare Supply Corps Officer pin thanks to the support and guidance of my fellow officers.

As rewarding as being an officer is, it also comes with its costs. I will be constantly evaluating and re-evaluating the cost analysis of my Navy career and personal life. I have not regretted my decision to join the Navy nor the Supply Corps and continue to look forward to everything it has to offer me.

By Ens. Amber Drayton, SC, USN