Honoring ‘Amazing Grace’ and namesake USS Hopper

Rear Adm. John Fuller

Rear Adm. John Fuller

Rear Adm. John Fuller
Commander, Navy Region Hawaii and Naval Surface
Group Middle Pacific Commander, Task Force Energy and Environment

Women’s History Month

Let me begin this column by saluting the women and men of USS Hopper (DDG 70) who returned from deployment recently. Well done and welcome home!

USS Hopper returned to Pearl Harbor after representing Naval Surface Group Middle Pacific and U.S. 3rd Fleet in the 5th Fleet and 7th Fleet areas of operation — in the Western Pacific, Indian Ocean and Arabian Gulf and in points and ports in between.

The Sailors aboard Hopper worked with partners and friends, including the Royal Australian navy, building relationships and protecting America’s interests.

Their successful deployment marks another milestone in the ship’s proud history, and is a tribute to USS Hopper’s namesake, Rear Adm. “Amazing” Grace Hopper.

On Dec. 7, 1941, when Grace Hopper heard about the attack on Pearl Harbor, she was already an established faculty member at Vassar College. Yet, she wanted to join the Navy.

The trouble was, the Navy had no commissioned officers at the time. She became one of the early WAVES: Women Appointed for Voluntary Emergency Services, and she worked at Harvard University on one of the first computers, helping in the war effort on the homefront.

Her success as a computer programmer and creator of COBOL language is legendary. And so is her toughness.

Official U.S. Navy photo

Official U.S. Navy photo

Grace Hopper faced an extra-thick glass ceiling. Others held her back because of her gender or because of rigid thinking and lack of imagination. “Women can’t do math.” Wait, what? “Computers are just a fad.” Um, let me use my smartphone to see who said that.

But, Grace Hopper prevailed. She had a forward-thinking vision and she had the commitment to achieve her vision. She believed in science-based decision-making. And she demonstrated mental toughness.

Jennifer Touma, author of “Moment of Impact,” writes: “Mental Toughness is an inner strength developed in every experience to help you improve your own ability to ‘level the playing field’ in business (and in the military). It is an emotional toughness enabling you to remain emotionally stable while continuing to make rational decisions under pressure.”

“Amazing” Grace inspired generations of women and men, and she continues to inspire today as our Navy and nation continue moving toward a level playing field for everyone.

When she finally retired in 1986 (aboard USS Constitution), Grace Hopper was 79 years old.

President George H. W. Bush, a Navy veteran of World War II, presented Rear Adm. Hopper with the National Medal of Technology in 1991.

Amazing Grace passed away in 1992. Less than five years later the U.S. Navy commissioned USS Hopper (DDG 70).

Last November, President Barack Obama presented Hopper with a posthumous Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor.

President Obama said during the ceremony, “If Wright is flight and Edison is light, then Hopper is code.” Hopper was also the personification of Honor, Courage and Commitment — and Toughness.

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Category: News