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St. George Island native serves in Indian Ocean

By Megan Brown Special to the Times

A St. George Island native is serving aboard USS Hershel “Woody” Williams, a U.S. Navy Lewis B. Puller-class expeditionary mobile base, deployed in the Indian Ocean.

Lt. Alek Hoffman, a 2012 Florida State University graduate, serves as an airboss responsible for being an air officer and operations officer.

Lt. Alek Hoffman busy on the ship

“I coordinate, plan and execute all aviation operations for the ship," said Hoffman."I also am responsible for leading 30 enlisted aviation specialists and am the department head for operations and air departments."

Hoffman joined the Navy nine years ago to see the world, lead sailors and gain valuable experience in management. He said he believes the values required to succeed in the Navy are similar to those found in St. George Island.

"The mentors I had and the support they gave me growing up were critical to my success," said Hoffman. "Never let anyone tell you your dreams are unachievable."

USS Hershel “Woody” Williams is named in honor Marine Corps Reserve Chief Warrant Officer 4 Hershel W. Williams who earned the Medal of Honor for his actions during the Battle of Iwo Jima in World War II.

According to Navy officials, expeditionary mobile bases are designed to support low-intensity missions, allowing more expensive, high-value amphibious warfare ships and surface combatant warships to be re-tasked for more demanding operational missions.

With more than 90 percent of all trade traveling by sea, and 95 percent of the world’s international phone and internet traffic carried through fiber optic cables lying on the ocean floor, Navy officials continue to emphasize that the prosperity and security of the United States is directly linked to a strong and ready Navy.

According to Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Mike Gilday, four priorities will focus efforts on sailors, readiness, capabilities and capacity.

“For 245 years, in both calm and rough waters, our Navy has stood the watch to protect the homeland, preserve freedom of the seas, and defend our way of life,” said Gilday. “The decisions and investments we make this decade will set the maritime balance of power for the rest of this century. We can accept nothing less than success.”

Though there are many opportunities for sailors to earn recognition in their command, community and careers, Hoffman is most proud of mentoring junior sailors and officers, and watching them succeed.

“Our sailors remain the true source of our naval power,” said Gilday. “Mission one for every sailor remains a ready Navy, a Navy ready to compete today and a Navy ready to compete tomorrow. Together we will deliver the naval power the nation needs.”

As a member of the U.S. Navy, Hoffman, as well as other sailors, know they are a part of a tradition providing the Navy the nation needs.

"I am fortunate to have the opportunity to serve our citizens as part of our Navy team," said Hoffman. "The people I have met and the friendships built are the most valuable experiences I have had.”

Megan Brown writes for the Navy Office of Community Outreach