|CDR Kitja Horpayak
Commander Kitja Horpayak was commissioned upon graduation through the Auburn University NROTC program in 1997 and holds a Bachelors of Science in Education. He earned a Master’s Degree from The George Washington University as part of the Navy-Washington DC Internship Program and a second Master’s Degree from the United States Naval War College (USNWC). While attending USNWC, he completed his Joint Professional Military Education (JPME) Phase I and subsequently completed JPME Phase II at the Joint Forces Staff College.
His first assignment was in USS CARON (DD 970) as Auxiliary Officer, Electrical Officer, Main Propulsion Division Officer, and Assistant Engineer Officer. During this tour he also served as the Engineering Department Training Officer and completed a Mediterranean deployment with the JOHN C. STENNIS Battle Group.
While serving his second Division Officer tour at ASSAULT CRAFT UNIT FOUR (ACU 4), as Officer in Charge of Detachment ALPHA, he deployed in USS PORTLAND (LSD 37) as part of NASSAU Amphibious Ready Group. Upon returning to ACU-4 from his second Mediterranean deployment, he assumed the duties and responsibilities of Assistant Operations Officer.
Following Department Head training, he served as Engineer Officer in USS BENFOLD (DDG 65). He participated in the first-ever Emergency Surge deployment with ABRAHAM LINCOLN Carrier Strike Group and participated in Operation UNIFIED ASSISTANCE. Additionally, BENFOLD earned three consecutive Battle Efficiency awards and was awarded the Arizona Memorial trophy.
He served his second Department Head tour as Material Officer on Commander, Destroyer Squadron 21 staff and deployed with the JOHN C. STENNIS Carrier Strike Group in support of Operations IRAQI FREEDOM and ENDURING FREEDOM.
Upon completion of his department head tours, he reported to MCM CREW CONSTANT embarked in USS PIONEER (MCM 9) in January 2008 and is CREW CONSTANT’s first Executive Officer to fleet up to Commanding Officer. As Commanding Officer of MCM rotational crew, he commanded USS PIONEER (MCM 9), USS DEXTROUS (MCM 13), and USS WARRIOR (MCM 10). CONSTANT received the Golden Anchor for best retention and Sailors’ development programs and the Battle Efficiency Award.
Ashore, CDR Horpayak served as a Navy Washington D.C. intern. He served on the Chief of Naval Operations staff, Surface Warfare (N76) and Missile Defense (N71) Directorates, and the Joint Staff (J5) Politico-Military Affairs-Asia Pacific Directorate where he served as the Afghanistan Action Officer. His most recent shore assignment was at Navy Personnel Command (PERS 41) where he served as a LCDR/CDR detailer.
CDR Horpayak returned to USS BENFOLD (DDG 65) as the Executive Officer following his shore duty.
His personal decorations include the Meritorious Service Medal, the Joint Service Commendation Medal, the Navy Commendation Medal (Gold Star in lieu of Fifth Award), the Navy Achievement Medal, and various unit and campaign awards. Additionally, he was awarded the Vice Admiral John D. Bulkeley Distinguished Graduate Award from the Surface Warfare Officers School Command in 2013.