REL grad serves aboard destroyer

2009 Robert E. Lee High School graduate Juan Alaniz serves in the U.S. Navy aboard the guided-missile destroyer, USS Preble.

A 2009 Robert E. Lee High School graduate and Baytown native is serving in the U.S. Navy aboard the guided-missile destroyer, USS Preble.

Petty Officer 1st Class Juan Alaniz works as a Navy sonar technician (surface) aboard the forward-deployed Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer operating out of Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii.

Alaniz credits success in the Navy to many of the lessons learned in Baytown. 

“My hometown taught me the value of hard work,” said Alaniz. “Baytown has a very hard working background and being raised in that environment has really helped me throughout my career in the Navy.”

Preble measures 500 feet and is powered by four gas turbines that allow the destroyer to achieve more than 30 mph in open seas. Approximately 30 officers and 300 enlisted men and women make up the ship’s company. The jobs range from maintaining engines and handling weaponry to washing dishes and preparing meals. 

As a Navy sonar technician (surface), Alaniz is responsible for detecting, identifying and classifying all subsurface contacts throughout operational areas.

According to Navy officials, destroyers are tactical multi-mission surface combatants capable of conducting anti-air warfare, anti-submarine warfare and anti-surface warfare, as well as humanitarian assistance. 

Being stationed in Pearl Harbor, often referred to as the gateway to the Pacific in defense circles, means Alaniz is serving in a part of the world taking on a new importance in America’s focus on rebuilding military readiness, strengthening alliances, and reforming business practices in support of the National Defense Strategy.

Serving in the Navy is a continuing tradition of military service for Alaniz, who has military ties with family members who have previously served. Alaniz is honored to carry on that family tradition. 

“I have two uncles who were in the Navy years ago,” said Alaniz. “Hearing their stories and just seeing how well they’re doing outside of the Navy really got me interested in seeing what it has to offer. I also have an older cousin currently in the Navy who is a chief warrant officer stationed in San Diego. His help and guidance throughout my career has been really crucial.”

Though there are many ways for sailors to earn distinction in their command, Alaniz is most proud of completing his Surface Warfare Coordinator qualification.

“The Surface Warfare Coordinator qualification is normally only held by chief petty officers and commissioned officers,” said Alaniz. “Obtaining this qualification took months of studying and on the job training. This qualification comes with a lot of responsibilities while the ship is underway. It requires quick and appropriate reactions under stressful circumstances. Becoming the first petty officer first class qualified to stand the watch onboard was definitely one of the most rewarding accomplishments I’ve done in my career.”

As a member of one of the U.S. Navy’s most relied upon assets, Alaniz and other sailors know they are part of a legacy that will last beyond their lifetimes.

“It’s really hard to beat Hawaii as a duty station. The weather is great year round and there’s always something to do. The ship’s schedule has been really tough and challenging, but the crew on board has made time fly,” added Alaniz. “I always wanted to travel and the Navy was my ticket. The Navy has given me the opportunity to travel to numerous countries and experience so many different cultures around the world. There’s also a bit a pride that comes with sailing around the world on a warship ready for the unthinkable.”

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