Women's History Month: Rear Adm. Linnea Sommer-Weddington
Navy leaders and pioneers
"From the Revolutionary War to current conflicts, women have played a crucial role in the security of our nation and the success of the U.S. Navy. Join us as we celebrate Women's History Month by profiling women leaders and pioneers across the Navy."
Rear Adm. Linnea J. Sommer-Weddington, Director of Assured Command and Control Information Dominance (OPNAV N2/N6F1)
How did you decide to join the Navy?
I always knew my father served four years in the U.S. Navy as a yeoman.
He loved serving as a "Tin Can" Sailor, although it was a long time before I fully understood what that meant. When I was in 8th grade, my oldest brother, Bobby, enlisted in the Navy and became a boiler technician (BT). By the time I graduated from college and decided to enlist, Bobby was a BT1(SW) still serving in Japan. He loved being overseas and the travel it afforded as well as being such an integral part of the engineering cadre aboard the USS Midway.
During my senior year, spring semester, I was looking for more than a 9-5 job and something which afforded travel, education, and something bigger than myself. I enlisted in early March 1981 and departed for Recruit Training Command in late February 1982 with a guarantee to become a CTI (cryptologic technician interpretive) Russian linguist. One of life's best decisions!
Q: Who have your role models or mentors been that have influenced you or helped to guide you throughout your Navy career?
A: Without a doubt, it starts with my Dad and my brother, BTC(SW) Robert "Bobby" A. Sommer, USN (Ret) followed closely with my husband, Col. Anthony "Andy" F. Weddington, USMC (Ret).
There have been numerous others of all ranks who have been role models and mentored me throughout my enlisted and officer careers which includes active duty and reserve duty.
Q: Can you share a story about someone, perhaps someone in your family or otherwise, who has influenced you or challenged you to become more than perhaps even you ever thought you might.
A: Again, I will start with family, as the youngest of three with two older brothers, I was always challenged to keep up with them whether they wanted me to or not.
My parents were also role models in their own way. Once I joined the Navy, my brother Bobby continued to look out for his little sister, especially when he was the chief and I was the ensign. He never steered me wrong! My Marine husband has been my constant support, however there were times when he made recommendations to me but I had to tell him that may work with his Marines but would not for my Sailors! I have been blessed by many peers, superiors, as well as juniors who have challenged me, supported me in ways I would never expect, and made me the Sailor I am today.
Q: Please tell us which past assignments are the most memorable to you and why?
A: I know this may be cliche, but all assignments have been memorable.
However, to narrow it down, I have two from my enlisted days: learning Russian at the Defense Language Institute for one year in Monterey, California followed by working as a Russian Linguist (Cryptologic Technician Interpretive) in support of the Naval Security Group Activity in Misawa, Japan, for two and a half years. The mission and people in both assignments made them unforgettable.
As an officer, I have served in the Reserves holding a variety of billets in more than ten different units across the country, all providing opportunities and challenges proving to be memorable. However, the most remarkable are the five different commanding officer billets in San Diego, Fort Worth, San Antonio, and Augusta, having the opportunity to lead Sailors and support missions worldwide. A few other more notable assignments follow:
I also had the opportunity to serve on active duty for three years on the Commander, Naval Air Reserve Force in New Orleans as the Deputy Chief of Staff, Cryptology. That was a wonderful experience to see/support an Echelon III staff supporting tens of thousands of Selected Reservists.
In April 2012 I had the honor to report as an individual augmentee assigned as the Information Operations Director in support of U.S. Forces Afghanistan at the International Security Assistance Forces command headquarters in Kabul, Afghanistan. What a privilege to lead a multi-national department in support of national requirements.
Currently I am assigned to OPNAV N2/N6 as the Deputy Director for Warfare Integration, another privilege to serve on staff, especially since it's the Chief of Naval Operations.
Q: What does being a leader in the Navy mean to you?
A: I believe wholeheartedly in our Core Values of Honor, Courage, and Commitment.
Those who have worked for me over the years well know integrity is an important personal value for me. With these values my daily aim is to the set the example in thought, word, and deed - from the front - demanding excellence from myself while expecting the same from Sailors and holding them accountable. That approach has proven successful and makes leading Sailors and Navy civilians, as well as embracing their families, easy! Taking care of the people, which sometimes requires tough decisions for the greater good, is critical to accomplishing the mission.