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Women's History Month: Human Resources

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."

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Commander Esther Bopp is currently serving as a Human Resources Officer.

Q: How did you decide to join the Navy?

A: Well originally, I joined the Marine Corps in 1985. I had heard of the Navy after my 5th year on Active Duty, but was told that if was a male dominated branch of service. While in night school at Chaminade University in Hawaii, I picked up a brochure that had a Navy female in an Officer uniform and laughed, openly stating, "They made a mistake, this is a woman on the cover!" A gentleman stated, "No. that is correct." I applied for the Broaden Opportunity for Officer Selection Training (BOOST) and here I am today. I admired the role of leadership and the Navy gave a Marine the opportunity.

Q: Who have your role models or mentors been that have influenced you or helped to guide you throughout your Navy career?

A: My mentors are many, and change with my increase of rank and positions. Most noteworthy is RDML (ret.) Annie B. Andrews. In 2009, while still a CAPT and stationed at the Navy Annex in DC, she continued to motivate me to become a "driving force" in the HR FTS Community whose birth year was 2007. CAPT Nicole Deramus-Suarzo would never let me be mediocre. She set the standards high and the work ethic higher. Because of her, I was awarded the HR Communities 1st HR Junior Officer of the Year. She established un-parallel trust beyond any mentor. She is my hero! But who could forget CAPT Randy Johnson. If not for him, I would not have been given the chance for increased education, certification and recommendation for Command.

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: My children and my husband David are my greatest cheerleaders. David not only supports me, but tells me to strive for the impossible. I have to tell him that HR FTS does not have a Flag Officer, but he tells me, "The reserve component and FTS Officers can share the billet, ask the VADM!" Evidently, I have a lot of work to do.

Q: Please tell us which past assignments are the most memorable to you and why?

A: My most memorable assignment was onboard USS Frank Cable. Typhoon Ponsonya hit the tiny island of Guam and nearly tore the island to shreds. No water, no incoming food, and no gas on the island. The gas tanks were on fire. We had to push out to the ocean with the other vessels and returned to these ruins. The Captain and the Staff didn't blink an eye, and off we went to help the islanders. Chopping and sawing down trees, removing boulders from the middle of the street, making water and ice and feeding people on the mess decks. Helping the community, that was great. Another memorable assignment was my assignment in Gardez, Afghanistan. It was quite interesting as the 1st Navy Female Team Chief. Twenty-two missions, my entire team decorated with awards and combat ribbons, and I a Bronze Star, but nothing beats cleaning up the island of Guam.

Q: What does being a leader in the Navy mean to you?

A: Being a leader means constant commitment to improvement in all areas of Navy, family and community. It's the opportunity to emerge from the shadows of support and define the vision for the organization moving forward. Mission identified - mission complete. Paving the way for future Sailors, and putting the challenges in the path to help them grow, bringing benefit not only to the Navy but to our country as well.