A Bradford, Arkansas, native and 2010 Bradford High School graduate is serving in the U.S. Navy aboard the guided-missile destroyer, USS Preble.

Petty Officer 3rd Class Alex Hendricks is a fire controlman aboard the guided-missile destroyer operating out of Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.

A Navy fire controlman is responsible for operating and maintaining shipboard weapons control.

“Growing up, I was always taught to respect people who are in positions of authority,” said Hendricks. “I am pretty junior enlisted, so there are a lot people who rank over me. That lesson comes in handy everyday.”

More than 300 sailors serve aboard the ship, and their jobs are highly specialized, requiring dedication and skill, according to Navy officials. The jobs range from maintaining engines to handling weaponry along with a multitude of other assignment that keep the ship mission-ready at all times.

Fast, maneuverable, and technically advanced, destroyers provide credible combat power, at and from the sea.

"Our sailors in Pearl Harbor are doing an excellent job at warfighting and supporting the warfighter," said Cmdr. Hurd, chief staff officer, Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam. "Historically, Pearl Harbor is a symbolic base of sacrifice and resiliency. Today, on every Navy ship and shore facility's flag pole, the First Navy Jack, 'Don't Tread on Me,' flies reminding sailors to move forward and build on the history and legacy of this country and the U.S. Navy."

Navy guided-missile destroyers are multi-mission ships that can operate independently or as part of a larger group of ships at sea, Navy officials explained. They are equipped with tomahawk missiles, torpedoes, guns and a phalanx close-in weapons system.

Challenging living conditions build strong fellowship among the crew. The crew is motivated, and can quickly adapt to changing conditions. It is a busy life of specialized work, watches and drills. Serving aboard a guided-missile destroyer instills accountability and toughness and fosters initiative and integrity.

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

“My grandfather, father and cousin were all in the National Guard,” said Hendricks. “My dad and I joined for the same reasons. We wanted to do better in our lives. He brought a lot of perspective that we can share for the military lifestyle.”

Hendricks is also proud of earning the Distinguished Military Graduate of fire controlman “A”school.

“Graduating top of my class was one of my greatest accomplishments so far,” said Hendricks. “I was head to head with another student and I knew that I wanted to achieve that so I am glad that I stuck with that goal.”

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

“Serving in the Navy is a chance to serve my country,” added Hendricks. “It is a real honor to be able to serve in the Navy.”