By Douglas H Stutz, NHB/NMRTC Public Affairs Officer
EVERETT, Wash. - Interior communication electricians tend to be unsung heroes, even in today’s high-tech environment.
Their work is behind the scenes. Out of sight, thus out of mind. No one notices them until needed because something has failed or faltered.
During a recent visit to Navy Medicine Readiness Training Unit Everett by Capt. Patrick Fitzpatrick, Naval Hospital Bremerton director and NMRTC Bremerton commanding officer, he recognized Interior Communication Electrician (IC) 3rd Class Laura D. Pugh for her stellar work ethic.
For Pugh, her clinical contributions are but an extension of her chosen field of expertise, which centers on installing, maintaining and repairing equipment used for communicating in Navy commands, such as the naval health clinic she is currently assigned.
“As an IC, I honestly never pictured myself in a career with Navy Medicine,” said Pugh, from Marysville, California, and a Marysville High School, 2011 graduate.
She joined the Navy in April 2015, and became part of Navy Medicine being assigned to NMRTU Everett, May, 2022.
Pugh is the sole Information Management department representative at the clinic. Navy Medicine relies heavily on computer-based systems and electronic communication means, just as their civilian counterparts. Keeping them up and running is a commitment.
“My primary responsibility is to ensuring staffs accounts, computers, printers and scanners are properly working,” Pugh said.
Pugh asserts that her job calls for rapid and resourceful capability to respond to any communication issue.
“Navy ICs have to be quick and creative thinkers when it comes to troubleshooting our gear. When communication goes down during drills, casualties, replenishment at sea evolutions, etc. it could mean someone gets hurt or words aren’t properly passed. When alarm and warning systems aren’t properly working casualties could spread rapidly. When our gear malfunctions, it’s not always the same solution to fix it. Sometimes we have to think outside the box and come up with solutions. Bringing that mindset to the clinic just brings a new perspective and voice,” explained Pugh.
Pugh’s journey to NMRTU Everett started by following her older siblings into the Navy. It was soon after joining she married her husband, Greg. They relocated from Illinois in 2016 to her first command, USS Nimitz (CVN 68), homeported in Bremerton, Washington, during which time she completed a six-month deployment to the Navy Fifth Fleet area of operation. She transferred to Naval Base Kitsap in 2018.
“In August of 2018, I had my beautiful daughter Kiah Pugh and in November reenlisted for six more years,” said Pugh, adding fiber optic data multiplex technician specialty schooling and micro-miniature repair tech training before being assigned in December, 2019, to USS Kidd (DDG 100) at Naval Station Everett. Shortly after Pugh arrived the Kidd set sail. What initially began in January, 2020, as a six month deployment to the Navy’s Fifth Fleet became nine months with U.S. 4th Fleet, operating in the oceans around Central and South America. Pugh did another deployment on Kidd to the 5th Fleet before transferring to the clinic, awaiting the arrival of her second child.
Pugh attests that her haze-gray underway time lent to a strong longing for home and yearning for her family. Being assigned to NMRTU Everett was just what she needed.
“This command is allowing me to reconnect with my family. The last three years I have spent a total of 26 months away from my family and six months in a high stress yard period. Being here means everything to me,” exclaimed Pugh.
When asked to sum up her experience with Navy Medicine, Pugh replied, “Good high energy work environment.”
“A good work environment will push you to be your best and support you when needed,” continued Pugh, noting that the best part of her career has centered on the people she’s worked with and for. “In the four commands I have been stationed, it’s the people that make the long days worthwhile.”