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By Megan Brown, Navy Office of Community Outreach

Atlantic Ocean– Lt. Jj.g. Cara Pastrana represents USS James E. Williams’ motto “lead from the front,” while serving aboard the guided missile destroyer. Pastrana joined the Navy because of her family’s history sponsoring midshipmen and was inspired by her brother’s service in the Marine Corps. She has now been a sailor for three and half years.

Pastrana is a surface warfare officer and anti-submarine warfare officer who is responsible for driving, operating the ship and supervising and managing a division of surface sonar technicians.

“As a surface warfare officer, my favorite part has been learning to drive and fight the ship,” said Pastrana. “It’s been unreal to be a small part of a team as we’ve taken the ship from Norfolk to halfway across the world.”

Pastrana is a 2011 Annapolis Area Christian School graduate and a native of Annapolis, Maryland. Pastrana is also a 2016 United States Naval Academy graduate.

According to Pastrana, the values required to succeed in the Navy are similar to those found in Annapolis.

“Growing up I was taught how persistence is key,” said Pastrana. “This is so important to me as a leader and a member in the Navy as nothing comes easy, and that you must keep pressing!”

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.

James E. Williams is the namesake of Chief Petty Officer James Elliott Williams, one of the Navy’s most highly decorated enlisted sailors. Through his 20 years of service, Williams earned 18 awards including the Medal of Honor and Purple Heart (with two gold stars). The ship is currently deployed to the Atlantic Ocean and is capable of conducting Anti-Air Warfare, Anti-Submarine Warfare, and Anti-Surface Warfare.

According to Adm. Mike Gilday, the Chief of Naval Operations, the focus of today’s Navy is squarely on warfighting, warfighters and the capabilities needed for the Navy of the future.

“I am confident we will maximize the Navy we have today while delivering the Navy that our nation will rely upon tomorrow,” said Gilday. “And we will do so with urgency. Our fleet will be a potent, formidable force that competes around the world every day, deterring those who would challenge us while reassuring our allies and partners.”

There are many opportunities for sailors to earn recognition in their command, community and careers. However, Pastrana is most proud of being selected to be an anti-submarine warfare officer.

“It was a job I was very interested in, and I was so excited that the Navy allowed me to have this job and then send me through multiple schools to become proficient at it,” said Pastrana.

For Pastrana, serving in the Navy is a tradition passed down from generations and one Pastrana hopes to continue.

“I have grandparents, and uncles, and cousins who have all served and are serving, but my older brother, Ryan, has been my biggest inspiration,” said Pastrana. “It is an honor to carry on our tradition of service in my family.”

As a member of the U.S. Navy, Pastrana, 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.

“As part of the few who serve, I have a sense of achievement knowing that I am among people who keep our great country great,” said Pastrana “It has given me a family built around the same core values.


David M. Higgins II, Publisher/Editor

David M. Higgins was born in Baltimore and grew up in Southern Maryland. He has had a passion for journalism since high school. After spending many years in the Hospitality Industry he began working in...