By Ryo Isobe, FLEACT Yokosuka Public Affairs
To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven.
– Ecclesiastes 3:11, quoted in Cmdr. Lopez’s Retirement Ceremony
YOKOSUKA, Japan –Yokosuka Ship Repair Facility and Japan Regional Maintenance Center (SRF-JRMC) honored the dedicated service of a retiring Sailor at Fleet Activities (FLEACT) Yokosuka’s Fleet Theater last month.
Former Waterfront Operations Department Head and Engineering and Planning Department Head Cmdr. Assunta Lopez was piped ashore during a retirement ceremony celebrating her twenty years of service to the Navy March 31, 2016.
SRF-JRMC Commanding Officer Capt. Garrett Farman thanked Lopez for her work at the command and as a member of the Navy during the ceremony. “I would like to personally thank you for inviting me to speak at such an important milestone in your Navy career,” said Farman. “When you reflect on your adventures here at SRF-JRMC, remember you are and always will be a part of this amazing group of professionals who keep the 7th Fleet operationally ready.”
The ceremony recognized her large Naval contributions and the respect she had gained from her Sailors during her service at U.S. Naval facilities around the world. Guest speaker, Naval Sea Systems Command Deputy Commander for Reserve Matters, Rear Adm. Alma M. Grocki also acknowledged Lopez’s contributions to the Navy.
“Cmdr. Lopez has been one of the biggest assets in our Engineering Duty maintenance community,” said Grocki. “She has taken the hard jobs and always excelled. And now, she is taking those same skills, attributes and work ethic into the civilian world.”
“As I reflect on my years and accomplishments in the Navy,” said Lopez in her remarks, “I am very grateful for my faith, my family, my friends and my Navy family – all of whom have a tremendous impact on me.”
In her speech, Lopez took the chance to underline the importance of teamwork in the face of challenges. “Although the work is hard in the Navy, we must remember that we need to work together,” she said.
She also quoted an American civil rights activist, Baptist minister and politician, Reverend Jesse Jackson: “The only time to look down on someone is when you are helping them up.”
Hailing from Oxnard, California, Lopez began serving the U.S. Navy after graduating from University of California at Los Angeles in 1996 with a bachelor’s degree in materials engineering. Her stepfather was a great inspiration for her to join the Navy; he was a Senior Chief equipment operator in the Seabees, also known as the Naval Construction Forces or Construction Battalions. Her first assignment was Pre-Commissioning Unit Hopper (DDG 70) as main propulsion officer/assistant, where she joined her fellow plank owners in commissioning USS Hopper (DDG 70) in September 1997 and earned her surface warfare officer qualification.
In August 2000, Lopez was accepted into the engineering duty officer community. Then, in 2002, she completed her Master of Science degree in mechanical engineering at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, Calif. while attaining her professional engineer’s license.
In 2009, she volunteered for a six-month Individual Augmentation to support the Provincial Reconstruction Teams and reconstruction efforts in eastern Afghanistan. There, she aided construction projects such as roads, dams, power plants and schools.
“It changed my life,” said Lopez. “Together with many other organizations, we managed and oversaw projects such as road construction, alternative power generation and construction of schools. Because of the dangers of traveling by vehicle, we travelled to many remote places by helicopter and coordinated construction with the local residents.”
Her final tour brought her to SRF-JRMC in Yokosuka, Japan, where she served as the waterfront operations department head, from 2013 to 2015. She supervised the execution of ship availabilities and directed project superintendents, zone managers, schedulers, work integration managers and divers.
Subsequently, Lopez assumed her last duty as engineering and planning department head in March 2015. Keeping the 7th Fleet operationally ready, she supported the planning and execution of maintenance and repair for naval-based units in Yokosuka. This included oversight of technical documents, testing during ship availabilities, and fleet technical assistance to support urgent and critical ship casualties.
“As I close the season of my Navy career, I welcome a new season of change – the season of retirement,” said Lopez in her concluding remarks. “I will cherish the many friendships and memories of my life in the Navy.
“I wish you and your loved ones peace, strength and happiness always.”