Thursday, August 11, 2022

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Brett Hopper performs reinforced physical training in the sand pit during battle stations on Nov. 25 at Officer Training Command in Newport, Rhode Island. After completing battle stations, students enter the final phase of their training and earn the title of candidate officers where they begin mentoring the new class cycles. The program puts enrollees to the test morally, mentally and physically while developing civilians and fleet sailors into newly commissioned officers. The goal is to instill within them the highest ideals of honor, courage and commitment for service in the fleet as Naval officers. Photo by Darwin Lam, U.S. Navy

Brett Hopper joined the Navy for two simple reasons: “to serve his country and see the world.”

Originally from Altoona, the 2016 graduate of Southeast Polk High School went on to earn his degree from Iowa State in political science. After finishing in Ames in December of 2019, Hopper was sworn into the Navy on Sept. 1, 2020, and less than two weeks later he found himself in Rhode Island for officer training school attempting to become an officer and launch his service as a Surface Warfare Officer.

Officer Candidate School is a grueling 13-week long program that is putting Hopper and his classmates to the test morally, mentally and physically. The goal of the training is to teach enrollees to be leaders. Seeing people come together in his class of 90 has been the best part of the experience so far, according to Hopper in an interview with CITYVIEW as he neared the end of the program.

Military service runs in his family going back many generations.

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“I always had a desire to join,” he says. “I just wanted to give back in some way.”

If and when he passes and graduates with his class in January, Hopper will be commissioned as an Ensign and join the Navy’s leadership ranks. He is preparing to accept an assignment aboard the USS Decatur, which is scheduled to depart from San Diego this summer. He says he could potentially be working on an array of duties ranging from work in the ship’s engine department all the way to firing high-tech weaponry.

Whatever type of specific service he will have his hands on, Hopper’s 36-month assignment will begin probably this summer, but first he’ll be home for a brief winter break, and the soon-to-be officer has a date with a certain best friend named Petey — a Schnoodle — a hybrid combination of a Schnauzer and a Poodle — and he is also looking forward to seeing family and friends.

“Young men and women like this officer candidate deserve to be recognized in their community for the service and sacrifice they are providing to our Navy and our nation,” writes Dave Hecht, a public affairs officer and chief of Naval personnel.

Indeed. ♦

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