Military News

Thursday, March 05, 2015

Face of Defense: Sailor Learns From Service Aboard Destroyer



By Army Sgt. Richard Hoppe
123rd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

GUANTANAMO BAY, Cuba, March 5, 2015 – Voices echo shallowly across confined, bluish-grey, metal halls and stairwells as shoulders tightly squeeze by, grazing one another in passing.
For some service members, imagining a deployment in these conditions may cause slight anxiety. But for Navy Seaman Morgan Pilgreen, an operations specialist assigned to USS Jason Dunham, it’s the life she’s lived for almost two years.

The Arleigh Burke-class destroyer recently made a port visit to the U.S. naval station here.

Pilgreen said she joined the Navy to travel and because she wanted to do something honorable, but different. The 20-year-old sailor works in the ship’s Combat Information Center, tracking radar systems and other vessels in the area.

Continuing Her Family’s Service

Service runs in her family. Pilgreen’s father served in the Army, she said, and her sister is preparing to deploy.

The Savannah, Georgia, native was assigned to USS Jason Dunham after graduating from her specialty training, and she will celebrate two years aboard the destroyer in August. In such a small amount of time, Pilgreen said, she has traveled up and down the U.S. East Coast, made port visits in the United Kingdom, and has gained valuable experience.

“I feel like I’m learning a lot,” she said. “I’m learning how to do maintenance on a ship [and] how to firefight.”

Pilgreen said she plans on taking college courses while seeing where her Navy career will take her.

“I’m planning on seeing how far I can get,” she said. “I’ve got a lot of opportunity within my rate, so I’m looking forward to seeing what more I can do.”

Recalling a Favorite Experience

One of her favorite experiences, she said, was conducting naval surface fire support during an exercise in which the crew of USS Jason Dunham worked with Marines and NATO forces off the coast of northern Scotland. She played an essential part of the crew’s success during the exercise, which used the ships MK-45 5-inch, .62-caliber gun, firing rounds at targets on a nearby beach to clear a path for the Marines.

“All that work we had to do, and all the stress … and actually getting to see it happen and making something go ‘boom,’ that was the coolest thing,” Pilgreen said.

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