by Brian Lamar, U.S. Navy Public Affairs
Growing up in Shreveport, Louisiana, wasn’t going the way Aviation Ordnanceman 1st Class Kimberly Harris thought it should. She had a rough upbringing and her partying ways were catching up to her.
“My party ways made me wake up and say something’s gotta change. I wised up and joined the Navy because I was getting in too much trouble. I needed discipline in my life, and I couldn’t stay where I was. I went from no discipline to all the discipline once I joined,” Harris said.
Harris has come a long way from her wild days with no rules. Recently, Harris who has been serving for nine years, was recognized as the Center for Security Forces (CSF) Sailor of the Year FY 2021.
“I couldn’t have accomplished this without my team. I had a lot of people who had a lot of faith in me. I try to go above and beyond. For the past year here, I have been the only first class in my organization. I am the leading petty office here,” said Harris.
Harris has a lot on her plate. Her organization, the Expeditionary Combat Skills (ECS) course, depends on her professionalism and ability to lead and wear multiple hats. With roughly 230 new students showing up each week that need their indoctrination class to set rules and standards, to course manager work and helping make the schedules for classes, Harris is instrumental in shaping the next generation of warfighters in the Navy ranks.
Harris doesn’t just get bogged down with operations and planning, she is also relied upon to make sure the finer details are accomplished, like logistics and making sure meals are correct for the trainees.
Harris is also depended upon as a career counselor for not only trainees but cadre and support staff for the school as well.
“I help with rollbacks (students who need another chance in a learning module) and I assist in the administrative portion. I do career counseling for ECS and at times I have even filled in as the acting Corpsmen, who do daily COVID screening ops,” said Harris.
According to Harris, the most difficult part of her job is adapting to the different kinds of people every day.
“We get four new classes of Sailors coming onboard every Monday,” said Harris.
Although Harris is considered a driven, professional Sailor, she has the ability to let loose and have fun on the job.
“My favorite part of the job is simunitions day. I love watching the fun they get out of the training and how they handle the culmination of their course. That is when the lightbulb clicks and the training they received is applied,” said Harris.
When Harris isn’t at work, she can be found at home honing her skills in the kitchen or hanging out with her Great Dane and shelter rescue that she refers to as a Mississippi mutt. Harris is engaged and has what she calls a bonus child that is active in tournament and travel baseball, which keeps their family hopping on the weekends. Her troops love to be her guinea pigs when it comes to taste testing new dishes. She recently feels that she has perfected her own recipe for chicken parmesan.
Harris’ short-term goals are to make chief and to be financially sound enough to get married and buy a house here in Coastal Mississippi. When she retires, her hopes are to retire here and become a high school guidance counselor.
Harris is valued and revered by superiors, peers and subordinates alike.