Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Amanda Rae Moreno

Petty Officer 2nd Class Alexis Mountain, a native of Wentzville, Missouri, learned lessons from her hometown that carried over into her military career. 

"My hometown taught me to always challenge yourself," said Mountain. "Never give up. There are going to be times in your career where you want to throw in the towel, but you have to continue to push yourself."

Mountain, a 2014 graduate of Holt High School, is at the school where naval officers learn to serve as surface warfare officers.

"I am in charge of personnel pay and administrative support," said Mountain. "I help with maintaining records and making sure pay is correct."

Mountain is part of the most innovative tactics at Surface Warfare Officers School (SWOS), located in Newport, Rhode Island.

"I enjoy being able to provide services that I know will help every member in their career path," said Mountain.

The mission of SWOS is to ready sea-bound warriors to serve on surface combatants to fulfill the Navy's mission maintaining global maritime superiority.

Once service members finish training they are deployed around the world putting their skill set to work aboard Navy ships, such as aircraft carriers, cruisers, destroyers, amphibious warfare ships, mine warfare ships and littoral combat ships.

Naval Education and Training Command (NETC), led by Rear Adm. Peter Garvin, is the U.S. Navy's Force Development pillar and largest shore command.  Through its "Street to Fleet" focus, NETC recruits civilians and transforms them into skilled warfighters ready to meet the current and future needs of the U.S. Navy.

Serving as a surface warrior requires a combination of dedication and sacrifice, but Mountain believes the accomplishments achieved along the way make the hard work worth it.

Mountain is most proud of crossing the equator twice. 

"I'm a two- time Shellback," said Mountain. "Many people are only able to cross the equator once, but I was given the opportunity to cross it twice while serving at my previous duty station aboard USS Wasp, which was forward-deployed to Sasebo, Japan."

According to the U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command, during the early days of the Surface Navy, wooden frigates, propelled by sails, would fire cannon balls at enemy ships in an attempt to either sink or capture the ships on the open seas, while modern surface warfare conducts a wide variety of missions - from multiple ship classes - including aviation, damage control and seamanship.

Surface warriors are the backbone of America's Navy and the most capable surface force in the world, explains the U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command: "The United States Navy is known for a colorful and illustrious history with opportunities in numerous warfare communities. But since its inception, the Navy has been known for fighting on the high-seas, and surface warfare remains our heart and soul."

The future of surface warfare is rapidly changing, according to Navy officials, so the course and materials at SWOS are constantly evolving to create the most dynamic, lethal, safe and professional warfighting team for the Navy the nation needs.

With more than 90 percent of all trade traveling by sea, and 95 percent of the world's international phone and internet traffic carried through fiber optic cables lying on the ocean floor, Navy officials continue to emphasize that the prosperity and security of the United States is directly linked to a strong and ready Navy.

According to Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Mike Gilday, four priorities will focus efforts on sailors, readiness, capabilities and capacity.

"For 245 years, in both calm and rough waters, our Navy has stood the watch to protect the homeland, preserve freedom of the seas, and defend our way of life," said Gilday. "The decisions and investments we make this decade will set the maritime balance of power for the rest of this century. We can accept nothing less than success."

As Mountain and other surface warriors continue to train, they take pride serving their country in the United States Navy.

"Serving in the Navy means to fear nothing, live in the moment and continue to challenge yourself," added Mountain.