Hillsborough native making impact overseas


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Catherine Hawkes joined the U.S. Navy to find sense of community, sense of purpose

Ensign Catherine Hawkes, a native of Hillsborough, serves in Japan aboard a forward-deployed U.S. Navy warship.

Hawkes joined the Navy two years ago. Today, Hawkes serves as a surface warfare officer aboard Ralph Johnson.

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“I joined the Navy because I want to find a sense of community,” said Hawkes. “I also wanted a sense of purpose, since my grandfather was a yeoman during WWII, I wanted to follow his footsteps.”

Growing up in Hillsborough, Hawkes attended Hillsborough High School and graduated in 2017.

Today, Hawkes relies upon skills and values similar to those found in Hillsborough to succeed in the military.

“A lesson I learned from my hometown was to always find better ways to do things,” said Hawkes. “I also have learned to stay calm and collected so that I can move past the challenge quickly.”

Modern U.S. Navy surface ships provide a wide range of warfighting capabilities in multi-threat air, surface and subsurface environments.

A Navy surface ship is capable of operating independently or as part of carrier strike groups, surface action groups or expeditionary strike groups.

Jobs aboard a U.S. Navy ship are highly specialized, requiring both dedication and skill, according to Navy officials. The jobs range from maintaining engines to handling weaponry along with a multitude of other assignments that keep the ship mission-ready at all times.

As a member of the Navy, Hawkes is part of a world-class organization focused on maintaining maritime dominance, strengthening partnerships, increasing competitive warfighting capabilities and sustaining combat-ready forces in support of the National Defense Strategy.

“The Navy is important to our national defense because the Navy is always operating during peacetime or not,” said Hawkes.

Hawkes serves in Japan as part of the Forward Deployed Naval Forces. These naval forces operate with allies and partners to preserve a free and open Indo-Pacific region. Service members in this region are part of the U.S. Pacific Fleet, which has the largest area of responsibility in the world.

“As the largest force in our nation’s front line against revisionist actors, U.S. Pacific Fleet meets this great responsibility with strength, resolve and confidence,” said Adm. Samuel Paparo, U.S. Pacific Fleet Commander. “Together with our joint and combined partner operations, we are positioned to defend – across all domains – any attempts to threaten our nation, our allies and partner’s security, freedom and well-being.”

Hawkes and the sailors they serve with have many opportunities to achieve accomplishments during their military service.

“I am most proud of my accomplishments when I become a sexual assault and prevention victim advocate,” said Hawkes. “I was proud of myself for being the person that junior sailors can come to and I have an impact on our sailors.”

As Hawkes and other sailors continue to train and perform missions, they take pride in serving their country in the U.S. Navy.

“Serving in the Navy means that I get to make decisions that will impact peoples’ lives,” said Hawkes.

Hawkes is grateful to others for helping make a Navy career possible.

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