It’s hard to believe that 34 plus years ago I was commissioned an Ensign in the United States Navy. Although 34 years is a long time to many, for me the years have sped by. As I look back, I am so thankful that I have been blessed with the opportunity to serve alongside men and women like you, dedicated to the service of our nation. I look forward to serving with all of you for the next several years, but when it is time to pass the torch to you, I know the United States Navy and the Supply Corps will be in extremely capable hands.
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Rear Adm. Valerie K. Huegel, SC, USN
For me, it all started in July of 1980 when I arrived at Officer Candidate School in Newport, Rhode Island. Four months later I was commissioned an Ensign and headed to the Navy Supply Corps School in Athens, Georgia. After graduation, I was off to Naval Station Adak, Alaska, where I served as the Fuels and Personal Property Officer, Stock Control, Unaccompanied Officer/Enlisted Personal Housing and Aviation Supply Support Officer. That was during the Cold War and we supported the P3 Squadrons, which rotated from Barber’s Point and Moffett Field every six months. It was exciting; and for a young Ensign, it opened my eyes to the enormity of the Navy and its many and varied missions.
From Adak, I transferred to Naval Air Station Jacksonville, Florida, where I finished out my active duty time and affiliated with the Reserve Component. Now there is a story to this. When I left active service in 1984, I had no intention of joining the Reserves, but a TAR (Training and Administrative of Reserves and the forerunner to a Full Time Support officer) kept calling me until one day in February 1986, I said that I would go to the Pensacola, Florida, Reserve Center and “find out what this Reserve thing is all about,” (almost my exact words) and I have never looked back. What an adventure it has been. I have had many outstanding times and tours in the Navy, to include my most recent assignment as the Commander, Navy Expeditionary Logistics Support Group. We provide combat logistics support to the warfighter and have been, and continue to be, involved in many world events. Everything we do enables the warfighter to fight and win. It’s an awesome feeling to be part of something so much bigger than oneself.
Where I experienced this the most was during my mobilization to the Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA). It was an opportunity of a lifetime for me and the excitement, the adrenalin, the pressure, the problem solving required, the teamwork and collaboration, and being able to work with individuals from the Department of State, U.S. Agency for International Development, the Djiboutian army and a multitude of multi-national Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines made for unforgettable accomplishments, memories and a pride that runs very deep. A pride in knowing that working as a team with all involved and never losing sight of CJTF-HOA’s mission made a difference in the daily lives of so many and brought more peace and security to the world.
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Reserve Supply Corps officers get together for a group photo.
Through all these years, I have continued to grow as an individual. I have learned from many, have had successes and failures from which I have learned, and have met many outstanding people of various backgrounds and cultures. All of which have made me the person that I am today — a person who is thankful for the opportunities afforded me. I couldn’t have done it alone and am thankful to those individuals throughout my career who saw something in me and took me under their wings and molded me. They guided me, were brutally honest, made me do more than I thought I could do, challenged me to continue topping my best, and always saw more in me and knew I could do it. These individuals gave me the tools and the confidence to be the very best that I could be. I will always be thankful to them and to the many men and women with whom I have served and will continue to serve. It takes a team and I am so thankful to be part of your team – the United States Navy Supply Corps team — what a spectacular adventure!
By Rear Adm. Valerie K. Huegel, SC, USN;
Commander, Navy Expeditionary Logistics Support Group