VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. -- Information Warfare Training Command (IWTC) Virginia Beach staff gathered to recognize and celebrate Black History Month, Feb. 28.
IWTC Virginia Beach’s auditorium filled to capacity as personnel took a reflective look back at the history of African Americans in the U.S. Navy whose impact enabled the success of so many.
Cmdr. Charleese Sampa, executive officer of Naval Ocean Processing Facility, served as guest speaker. Sampa is a trailblazer in her own right. She was the second African American female to be a strike group intelligence officer or N2, and is currently in line to become the first African American female commanding officer of an Integrated Undersea Surveillance Systems (IUSS) command. Sampa led the celebration with the theme, “Success Always Leaves Footprints.”
Sampa detailed these footprints by telling the stories of success behind other African Americans in naval history including the Golden Thirteen, the first black officers in the Navy. As she spoke of the intelligence community, she spoke asked the audience to consider Vice Adm. Samuel Gravely, Sonar Technician Lanier Philips, and Rear Adm. Benjamin Thurman Hacker — all trailblazers who inspired many people from all walks of life to pursue greatness.
Capt. Gail Harris, the first intelligence officer to attain the rank of captain, later became a close mentor of Sampa. Rear Adm. Norman Hayes was the first African American intelligence officer to hold command when he was selected as commanding officer of Navy and Marine Corps Intelligence Training Center, eventually becoming the first African American active duty intelligence officer to achieve flag officer. She finished the historical tribute with Adm. Michelle Howard, who recently became the first woman to attain the rank of admiral.
She spoke of her time as a junior officer and the moment she realized the impact she had on others, both directly and indirectly.
“I realized that, while being a leader, as you strive for success you have the responsibility to think about the impact you have on others,” said Sampa as she recounted a moment when she had a meaningful effect on a young Sailor.
In closing, Sampa asked that the audience reflect on the accomplishments of the past and maintain a passion for excellence. She stated that success does leave footprints, and it is our duty to do our best to make lasting impressions so those who follow can achieve greatness.
"It was a great privilege to have Cmdr. Sampa with us today”, said Cmdr. Andrew Boyden, commanding officer for IWTC Virginia Beach. “Her words are especially poignant and very relevant for all of us."
IWTC Virginia Beach currently offers 65 courses of instruction in information technology, cryptology, and intelligence with an instructor and support staff of 280 military, civilian, and contract members who train over 6,400 students every year at five training sites in the Hampton Roads area. It is one of four school houses for Center for Information Warfare Training and also oversees learning sites at Jacksonville and Mayport, Florida; Kings Bay, Georgia; and Groton, Connecticut to continue aligning IW community training.
Information Warfare Training Command Virginia Beach, as part of the Center for Information Warfare Training, provides a continuum of training to Navy and joint service personnel that prepares them to conduct information warfare across the full spectrum of military operations.
For news from the Center for Information Warfare Training organization, visit www.navy.mil/local/cid/, www.netc.navy.mil/centers/ciwt/, www.facebook.com/NavyCIWT, or www.twitter.com/NavyCIWT.