WAHIAWA, Hawaii – Most Americans would agree that communications are a vital part of their lives. The same is true for the U.S. Navy. Instead of using smart phones and tablets, a group of sailors stationed in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, use the most-advanced satellite and telecommunications equipment to share vital information with sailors deployed around the world.
Petty Officer 2nd Class Mercedes Mangum, a 2014 Blue Eye High School graduate and Lampe native is one of these sailors assigned to Naval Computer and Telecommunications Area Master Station Pacific who provides these communication services. Mangum credits success in the Navy to many of the lessons learned in Lampe.
“Growing up in a farming town taught me the importance of hard work and doing your part,” said Mangum. “It takes everyone doing their job to make things go smoothly.”
As a Navy information systems technician, Mangum is responsible for working with computers and troubleshooting systems when anything stops working.
NCTAMS Pacific is the center of communications for the U.S. Navy in the Pacific. They provide command, control, communications, computers and intelligence connectivity to Naval and Joint forces from San Diego to Singapore and beyond. NCTAMS Pacific is the largest naval communications station in the world, known as the “Pacific Voice of Command.”
A key element of the Navy the nation needs is tied to the fact that America is a maritime nation, according to Navy officials, and that the nation’s prosperity is tied to the ability to operate freely on the world’s oceans. More than 70 percent of the Earth’s surface is covered by water; 80 percent of the world’s population lives close to a coast; and 90 percent of all global trade by volume travels by sea.
The U.S. Pacific Fleet is the world’s largest fleet command, encompassing 100 million square miles, nearly half the Earth’s surface, from Antarctica to the Arctic Circle and from the West Coast of the United States into the Indian Ocean.
Being stationed in Pearl Harbor, often referred to as the gateway to the Pacific in defense circles, means that Mangum is serving in a part of the world that is taking on new importance in America’s focus on rebuilding military readiness, strengthening alliances, and reforming business practices in support of the National Defense Strategy.
“Our priorities center on people, capabilities and processes, and will be achieved by our focus on speed, value, results and partnerships,” said Secretary of the Navy Richard V. Spencer. “Readiness, lethality and modernization are the requirements driving these priorities.”
The Navy has been pivotal in helping maintain peace and stability in the Pacific region for decades. The Pacific is home to more than 50 percent of the world’s population, many of the world’s largest and smallest economies, several of the world’s largest militaries, and many U.S. allies.
Though there are many ways for sailors to earn distinction in their command, community, and career, Mangum is most proud of earning a Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal for Blue Jacket of the Year.
“In 2016, I competed with sailors base wide,” said Mangum. “I hadn’t been at my command very long, but it showed me that hard work pays off, and people are watching.”
Serving in the Navy is a continuing tradition of military service for Mangum, who has military ties with family members who have previously served. Mangum is honored to carry on that family tradition.
“My grandpa and great grandpa both served in the Navy,” said Mangum. “It made me want to follow in their steps. I’m the first female in my family to join the military.”
As a member of one of the U.S. Navy’s most relied upon assets, Mangum and other sailors know they are part of a legacy that will last beyond their lifetimes, one that will provide a critical component of the Navy the nation needs.
“NCTAMS Pacific has been an amazing opportunity to learn IT skills. It’s also been amazing to experience the culture that Hawaii has to offer,” added Mangum. “Serving in the Navy means being part of something bigger. At the end of the day your coworkers are truly like family. It’s an opportunity to push yourself to do things you never thought you could do.”