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Advancing Leaders Through Opportunity: Filipino-American Naval Officer prepares for Promotion to Commander
01 June 2023
From Aaliyah Essex
NAPLES, Italy--Yearly, the month of May is declared Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month across the United States. One cultural group with a significant contribution to United States military history has been those of Filipino descent. Since 1901, native Filipinos, and their descendants, have served with distinction in the United States Navy, even when encountering inequality that was common for minority service members. Now, more than 15,000 Filipino-Americans are actively serving today in the United States Navy, raising to ranks of leadership at all levels. This year, the awareness month was a little more personal for U.S. Naval Support Activity (NSA) Naples Security Officer Lt. Cmdr. Alex Lamis, of Filipino descent, prepares to promote to commander, directly representing the 2023 theme of AAPIHM—“Advancing Leaders Through Opportunity”.
NAPLES, Italy--Yearly, the month of May is declared Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month across the United States. One cultural group with a significant contribution to United States military history has been those of Filipino descent. Since 1901, native Filipinos, and their descendants, have served with distinction in the United States Navy, even when encountering inequality that was common for minority service members. Now, more than 15,000 Filipino-Americans are actively serving today in the United States Navy, raising to ranks of leadership at all levels.
This year, the awareness month was a little more personal for U.S. Naval Support Activity (NSA) Naples Security Officer Lt. Cmdr. Alex Lamis, of Filipino descent, prepares to promote to commander, directly representing the 2023 theme of AAPIHM—“Advancing Leaders Through Opportunity”.
“When you talk about the theme, ‘Advancing Leaders Through Opportunity,’ my career is a true example of that,” said Lamis.
Lamis’ career of leadership began as a desire to continue his father’s legacy in the U.S. military.
“Early on the goal was to go into the military and follow my father’s footsteps,” said Lamis.
His father, retired Steward 1st Class Rosendo Lamis Sr., served in the Navy for 20 years, retiring in 1974.
Lamis and his family moved to his parents’ native country, the Republic of the Philippines, following his dad’s retirement.
He lived there until he decided to continue his father’s legacy by enlisting in the U.S. Navy as a fire controlman in March 1995, attending bootcamp in Great Lakes, Illinois — the same city he was born in, in 1973.
“It was like a full circle moment,” Lamis said as he talked about going to bootcamp in his birth town.
Over his 28 year career, that circle has become a new life path that has taken him from a seaman recruit to a commander- a triumph for any Naval service member and a mark of pride for Lamis’ family.
Just as the AAPIHM theme promotes advancement through opportunities, the security officer credits his success to his cultural values and personal readiness as opportunities were presented to him.
“In Filipino culture, we are positive. We are optimists. Determination is also part of the culture. That helps me get through the challenges that the military presents,” said Lamis.
The security officer noted pivotal points in his career where opportunity mean readiness.
Lamis says one of the first major opportunities for advancement came as he served as the Leading Petty Officer as a second class petty officer onboard the Spruance-class destroyer USS O’Brien (DD 975) during deployment early in his career.
The next major opportunity he mentioned, occurred in 2001 as he attended Law Enforcement Specialist School and graduated at the top of his class.
After graduation, Lamis served as security patrolman, watch commander, the leading petty officer over training, and chief investigator at Naval Air Facility Atsugi in Japan.
After learning law enforcement role in Atsugi, Lamis converted to the master-at-arms rate in 2002, promoting to chief petty officer in 2004. For most Sailors this would be the height of their career in the Navy, earning their anchors and serving as the backbone of leadership for the entire force.
Yet Lamis served as a chief petty officer for roughly two years before receiving a commission through the Limited Duty Officer (LDO) program in 2007. This transitioned his career from ground level leadership to the strategic planning Naval Officers specialize in. This also marked Lamis as one in a distinguished minority known as “mustangs” to their Naval peers. A mustang is a Naval service member who has worked through their career path from enlisted to non-commissioned officer to commissioned officer. This is an honor that is difficult to attain and those mustangs are valuable repositories of knowledge and experience wherever they go.
Roughly 16 years post-commission, Lamis prepares for his promotion ceremony that takes place on June 1. He will assume the rank of commander, a senior-level officer with a distinguished career.
Members of his NSA Naples Security team voiced their support of his leadership abilities and promotion.
“It makes me feel happy, proud, and inspired to see minorities in leadership roles; especially when they are strong leaders,” said Gunner’s Mate 1st Class Rick Jones, Armory Lead Petty Officer.
Senior enlisted leader of the NSA Naples’ Security Department, Master-at-Arms Master Chief Jerome Taylor shared his thoughts on Lamis.
“Cmdr. Lamis leadership has been exceptional, best Security Officer I've worked for in my 27-year career,” said Taylor. “He has shown a remarkable ability to bring [the master-at-arms] together towards a common goal of ensuring the Security Department was ready for the fight. He is an approachable Leader who maintained a high level of professionalism, accountability, and set the example for his team,” Taylor added.
Taylor also mentioned Lamis’ ability to promote an inclusive environment.
Lamis described that these inclusive values ties back to his cultural upbringing, which promotes family and togetherness.
Lamis’ career continues a growing legacy of Asian American and Pacific Islander service members who have raised to ranks of significant leadership in the United States Navy. Advancing through opportunity, Sailors and Officers like Lt. Cmdr. Lamis will continue to contribute to a growing, diverse Navy adhering to the ideals of equality alongside honor, courage, and commitment.
NSA Naples is an operational ashore base that enables U.S., allied, and partner nation forces to be where they are needed, when they are needed to ensure security and stability in the European, African, and Central Command areas of responsibility.
For more news on NSA Naples, please follow us on Instagram @NSANaples and Facebook at facebook.com/NSANaples/.
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