Alexandria Native Serves with U.S. Navy Amphibious Squadron
"I remember one time asking my mother why there were all these people in uniform walking around the sailboat show when we went, and she told me the Naval Academy was nearby where you could go to school to be in the Navy. After that, my goal was set, and I tried very hard to do well in school until I was accepted to USNA and join the Navy after."
ALEXANDRIA, VA – An Alexandria, Virginia native is serving with Commander, Amphibious Squadron (PHIBRON) 4, one of nine U.S. Navy amphibious squadrons, responsible for planning and executing amphibious operations and deployments with reinforced Marine battalions worldwide.
“My job in the Navy as a cryptologic warfare officer is find out what our adversaries are thinking and ensure our commanders and decision-makers can use that information in their planning,” said Ekman. In addition, “Cryppies,” as we like to call ourselves, have a deep understanding of electronic warfare within the EM spectrum, offensive and defensive Cyperspace Operations, Signals Intelligence in many different areas, and even Space Operations and how they can be used in the Maritime Domain.”
Ekman joined the Navy six years ago after learning about the U.S. Naval Academy.
“When I was little, my dad raced his sailboat on the Potomac River,” said Ekman. “Since he was interested in sailing, he took my family to the sailboat show that is held in Annapolis, Maryland, every year. I remember one time asking my mother why there were all these people in uniform walking around the sailboat show when we went, and she told me the Naval Academy was nearby where you could go to school to be in the Navy. After that, my goal was set, and I tried very hard to do well in school until I was accepted to USNA and join the Navy after.”
According to Ekman, the values required to succeed in the Navy are similar to those found in Alexandria.
“NOVA and the DC Metro taught me to work with everyone well, regardless of their background,” said Ekman. “People come from all over the world to visit and work in NOVA and DC, and being able to experience that wide diversity of thought and background is an experience I am thankful for every day. I wish other people could see as much of the world as I did, without even leaving home.”
“I have learned from serving in the Navy that there are innumerable ways to approach a problem,” added Ekman. “Often, planning meetings in the Navy have representatives from every warfare area and many enlisted specialties. From those meetings of the minds, I have seen elaborate and insightful plans generated using unconventional thinking from some of the most unlikely sources. I recall one time, where an intelligence officer brought up a critical consideration in the surface warfare realm that had the discussion going for hours afterward.”
PHIBRON 4, located in Norfolk, Virginia, supports embarked amphibious forces, conducts rehearsals, renders humanitarian assistance/disaster relief and performs assaults upon hostile shores in support of national policy during low intensity conflicts and as a component of an integrated battle force during major conflicts. They have the capability to land troops and equipment by air and sea simultaneously, and to support troops in the field with fixed and rotary wing attack aircraft.
“The thing I like most about working at my command, is the vast variety of sailors and officers I get to work with,” said Ekman. “Our group spans the array of possible jobs you can have in the Navy; we have surface warfare officers, pilots, submariners, operational specialists, intelligence specialists and information warfare officers of all kinds. Added to our professional diversity is the wide range of personalities that spice everything up day-to-day, it really makes for a fun time while we are accomplishing the mission.”
Though there are many opportunities for sailors to earn recognition in their command, community and careers, Ekman is most proud of being able to give back to the U.S. Naval Academy.
“My greatest accomplishment so far, even above getting my surface warfare and information warfare officer qualifications, was being able to give back to the Naval Academy family by serving as a Midshipmen Sponsor parent,” said Ekman. “Much like NOVA, midshipmen come to the Naval Academy from all over the U.S., and it was one of the greatest experiences of my life to be able to serve as a home-away-from-home for my midshipmen.”
As a member of the U.S. Navy, Ekman, as well as other sailors, know they are a part of a service tradition providing unforgettable experiences through leadership development, world affairs and humanitarian assistance. Their efforts will have a lasting effect around the globe and for generations of sailors who will follow.
“I see serving in the Navy as more than a job,” added Ekman. “It has been an honor and a pleasure to be able to work with sailors and Marines in my current position to accomplish amazing feats around the world. We are doing more in a few months on deployment than some people dream about at their jobs at home, this is more than a job; it is a commitment to service and an endless set of opportunities and experiences along the way. I look forward to the adventure will continue to chase the horizon.”