Ens. Derek Prescott, from Sumter, S.C., enlisted in the Navy in 2007 as a Machinist’s Mate in the nuclear submarine field. In August 2014 he proudly received his gold Surface Warfare Officer (SWO) pin in the wardroom of the amphibious assault ship USS Boxer (LHD 4) where he is presently stationed. The road between the two places still gives him pause.
“I just wanted to serve my country and get a taste of the Navy,” said Prescott. His grandfather was a Boiler Tech during Vietnam and he’d always had an interest in the service.
Following A and C School, Prescott initially reported to the USS Buffalo (SSN 715) then based out of Guam. Because he was selected for the Seaman to Admiral program (STA-21) quickly, at only seven months aboard, Prescott did not receive his Enlisted Submarine Warfare Specialist pin, the coveted ‘dolphins’. Instead he attended the Citadel through STA-21 and received his commission as an Ensign.
“When I got picked up for STA 21 they sent me to the Surface Warfare Officer community, so I got to see below and above,” he said.
Prescott arrived to the Boxer exactly 2 days before her scheduled 8 month deployment in Aug. 2013. Aboard Boxer he’s held key Division Officer positions, including Electronic Warfare Officer, as well as Division Officer for OT, and OI divisions.
“A collective memory of bridge watchstanding and learning my new career and learning how to be an officer on top of being a SWO and actually being able to employ those skills has been my fondest memory,” recalled Prescott about the deployment. He added that the many port visits Boxer enjoyed, including the Philippines, Singapore, Oman, Dubai, Bahrain, Jordan and Israel were another fond memory.
“I’m just blown away by the career progression and how it’s worked, in that you can go from being a Seaman Recruit in boot camp to a qualified Surface Warfare Officer on a fighting warship in such a short time,” he said.
Prescott received his SWO pin 15 minutes after his final board and remarked that he was still decompressing from having to speak knowledgeably to his superiors on such a vast array of fields, using words such as ‘intense’ and terrifying’.
“It’s been seven years waiting on a warfare device, and not having my dolphins coming from the submariner community in which your dolphins really mean a lot, and understanding the importance of a pin. To get a pin, after such a long time…it’s like a homecoming for me to finally have a warfare area to call home,” said Prescott.
Like all SWO’s, Prescott’s dream is to one day have command of his own ship, but his main goal is what it has been all along.
“To be a good family man and do right by my wife and child but at the same time to serve my country to the best of my ability, that’s all I could ever hope for in my life,” a humble Prescott said.
Prescott encouraged officers to encourage and inspire others who desire a path to the wardroom, and encouraged enlisted to chase their dreams.
“You’re not limited by your paygrade when there’s so many programs out there that can create officers, can create leaders who are enlisted,” he said.