In 2006, 19-year-old Denise Lhamon made a decision that led her to some adventures the rest of us never get the opportunity to experience.
Lhamon recently joined the U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Command as a staff action control officer in the Office of the Secretary of the General Staff.
Young Lhamon joined the U.S. Navy to earn college money to ease the financial burden for her parents. During her tour in the Navy, she traveled extensively, adding more pins to the map of her travels she had already started.
“That old song lyrics 'I've been everywhere man/I've been everywhere' summarizes my life,” Lhamon said. “I was born in Japan [when my dad was stationed there], spent five years in Germany as a kid, then spent my junior high and high school years in Utah. In between that were travels around the U.S. and the world, the Navy kind of compounded that,” she said.
Lhamon enlisted as a master-at-arms in the Navy, but actually served as an antiterrorism force protection officer. She served aboard ship and added more pins to her virtual travel map, including Gibraltar, Spain, Greece, Bahrain, Djibouti, Senegal, Dubai and the Philippines.
“I miss being at sea. I especially remember seeing the Milky Way over the [Bab al-Mandab Strait] and the Straits of Hormuz,” Lhamon said. One of her other favorite memories is a 3 a.m. radio chat about aliens she had with her fellow sailors.
Since she left the Navy, Lhamon has earned a degree in media arts and animation. She worked in Romania as a management support assistant for both the director of public works and the U.S. Army Installation Management Command commander.
“The most rewarding aspect of serving in the Navy was what it taught me about people and myself,” she said.
In her current position, Lhamon is more concerned with Global Electronic Approval Routing System – more commonly known as GEARS – latency issues than the prospect of aliens. She said she enjoys applying her attention to detail to the correspondence packages she reviews and processes.
“I like having the ability to be pedantic and use my grammar skills,” she said.
Lhamon admits that serving in the Navy was one of the most complicated times in her life, but she doesn’t regret serving.
“The Navy showed me who I was at the time and who I could grow up to be,” Lhamon said.