MILLINGTON, Tn. – An El Paso, Texas, native was recently promoted in rank to U.S. Navy Lieutenant Commander serving aboard PCU Frank E. Peterson, Jr., a guided-missile destroyer, currently under construction at Huntington Ingalls Industries shipyard in Pascagoula, Mississippi.
Lt. Cmdr. Benjamin Olivas is a 2006 graduate of Cathedral High School and 2011 U.S. Naval Academy graduate. Today, Olivas serves as a Combat Systems Officer and Integrated Air and Missile Defense (IAMD) Warfare Tactics Instructor (WTI).
“A Combat Systems Officer is a Navy Department Head who leads the sailors assigned to man the combat systems in their warship,” said Olivas. “Thier job is to help manage their sailors’ careers, maintain the equipment in the highest state of readiness, and train their teams on how to effectively fight the ship.”
“Being part of the WTI Cadre has allowed me and my colleagues to make a real difference in the U.S. Fleet, especially in how it prepares to fight,” added Olivas. “WTIs are a close-knit team of professionals who are dedicated to achieving tactical excellence in naval combat. We specialize in specific warfare areas, and devote ourselves to bringing credible, executable, and repeatable tactical training to the Navy’s ships. If we do our jobs right, the crews we train sail away tactically prepared and ready to sustain combat operations at sea.”
According to Olivas, who joined the Navy 10 years ago, the values required to succeed in the military are similar to those found in El Paso.
“I attended Cathedral High School from 2002 to 2006,” said Olivas. “Cathedral emphasized that its students were called to serve their families, their communities, and their country. Every one of our teachers had very high standards, and they instilled in us the value of hard work and sticking to our commitments. It was there that I learned the habits, values, and virtues that prepared me for attending the U.S. Naval Academy.”
“Serving in the Navy I’ve learned to get up early and take advantage of the day, get a good night’s sleep, have a solid workout routine, be prepared and professional, and always start and end on time,” added Olivas. “You should also be decisive. When you make a decision, see it through. You won’t always get it right, but your job is to lead. Make an informed decision, follow through, and accept responsibility for the outcome. If you’re a leader, you are always being watched, so be genuine, listen more and speak less.”
The future USS Frank E. Petersen Jr., is a guided-missile destroyer that weighs almost 9,300 tons, is 510 feet in length, has a waterline beam of 65.5 feet and a navigational draft of 31 feet. Four gas turbine engines will power the ship to speeds in excess of 30 knots.
The ship is named in honor of Marine Corps Lt. Gen. Frank E. Petersen Jr., the first African American Marine Corps aviator and the first African American Marine Corps officer promoted to brigadier general. When he retired in 1988 after 38 years of service, he was by date of designation, the senior-ranking aviator in the Marine Corps and the U.S. Navy.
Though there are many opportunities for sailors to earn recognition in their command, community and careers, Olivas is most proud of various achievements while serving in the Navy.
“I’m proud of going on three successful deployments, watching my sailors develop, earning my IAMD WTI patch, and being entrusted with the Navy’s tactical training,” said Olivas.
As a member of the U.S. Navy, Olivas, 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.
“Serving means being part of something bigger than yourself,” added Olivas. “To devote your gifts, talents, and efforts to a cause that will outlive you, yet carry your fingerprints in its legacy. Serving in the Navy has been one of the most rewarding opportunities of my life, and I am excited to see what the future holds.”
Author: Rick Burke – Navy Office of Community Outreach