Los Angeles native, Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Trina Gray, is assigned to the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer the USS Dewey, forward deployed to Fleet Activities Yokosuka, Japan, currently conducting routine underway operations in the South China Sea.
Gray has served in the Navy for more than 16 years since joining in 2005 as a machinist mate, or auxiliary mechanic. She changed her job to operations specialist in 2009. She is now the leading petty officer for Operations Intelligence Division aboard the Dewey and is responsible for mentoring and training 29 sailors in their daily duties as operations specialists. They are tasked with the defense of the ship against air, surface and subsurface threats, and the identification and classification of all surface and subsurface vessels.
"Her leadership and managerial skills are top notch," Senior Chief Petty Officer Geraldo Anzaldo, Operations Department leading chief petty officer said. "She runs a tight division and is great at developing our future leaders. [Gray] ensures her team is fully qualified and maintenance is being completed, which enhances our combat readiness."
In addition to Gray's daily responsibilities as an operations specialist in the Combat Information Center, she has collateral duties that keep her busy. One of those collateral duties is berthing petty officer, where she is responsible for assigning personnel to make sure the berthing (where many sailors sleep) is clean, and gear is put away properly to maintain order and safety. She is also the cultural committee coordinator, leading a team of sailors in planning cultural heritage observances each month, including February's Black History Month.
"I have made celebrating Black History Month a priority in recent years," Gray said. "It is an opportunity to share experiences with all of America, or anyone interested. It has been an opportunity for me to learn about influences, contributions and history some black people have made in America, and in the world. It is about giving thanks for those contributions and sacrifices that have been made for America to be a better place, even if there is still work to do. It is a celebration of uniqueness, art, history, heritage and culture."
For this February, the Dewey's cultural committee is displaying pictures around the ship of influential black service members with a brief story of their accomplishments in celebration of the impact others have had in the military.
"Our purpose in our research is to enlighten others, and in doing so, we enlighten ourselves," Gray added. "It shares the belief that although you are different, although you are a minority, you can make an impact that is large enough to impact the future of the military."
Growing up in South Central L.A., Gray describes it as "rough around the edges" and says she rarely ventured out of the area. She joined the Navy to make money for college but gained much more than that.
"My favorite part of the Navy is relationship building," Gray added. "You meet people from all over the world; you get to learn about their upbringing and their experiences. Our different experiences make us a more capable Navy."
Included in those celebrated during Black History Month who have made history, Gray said several of her mentors and friends aboard the Dewey have had an extremely positive influence on her — helping her settle into the command, providing insight and direction, and helping with command collaterals.
"I am inspired by people who give selflessly, continuously and ask for nothing in return," Gray said. "I look at these people in awe and with curiosity, like, 'how do you exist in our world?'"
(Petty Officer 1st Class Lewis is with Commander, Task Force 71/Destroyer Squadron 15)