STENNIS, Mississippi — Most Americans rely on weather forecasts to plan their daily routine. The U.S. Navy is no different. With numerous ships, submarines and airplanes deployed around the world, sailors and civilians serving with the Naval Meteorology and Oceanography Command at Stennis Space Center, Mississippi, advise Navy leaders about the impact of ocean and atmospheric conditions on future operations.
Petty Officer 2nd Class Natalie Kalafatis, a 2009 Durand Area High School graduate and native of Durand, is one of those responsible for providing timely, comprehensive and tactically relevant information for ships, submarines, aircraft and other commands operating throughout the globe.
As a Navy aerographer’s mate, Kalafatis is responsible for providing environmental analysis to support Navy missions.
Kalafatis credits success in the Navy to many of the lessons learned growing up in Durand.
“From my hometown I learned to never forget where you came from,” said Kalafatis.
A key element of the Navy the nation needs is tied to the fact that America is a maritime nation, according to Navy officials, and that the nation’s prosperity is tied to the ability to operate freely on the world’s oceans. More than 70 percent of the Earth’s surface is covered by water; 80 percent of the world’s population lives close to a coast; and 90 percent of all global trade by volume travels by sea.
“Naval Oceanography defines and applies the physical environment for the entire Navy fleet from the bottom of the ocean to the stars,” said Rear Adm. John Okon, Commander, Naval Meteorology and Oceanography Command. “There isn’t a plane that flies, a ship or a submarine that gets underway without the sailors and civilians of Naval Oceanography.”
Kalafatis is playing an important part in America’s focus on rebuilding military readiness, strengthening alliances and reforming business practices in support of the National Defense Strategy.
“Our priorities center on people, capabilities and processes, and will be achieved by our focus on speed, value, results and partnerships,” said Secretary of the Navy Richard V. Spencer. “Readiness, lethality and modernization are the requirements driving these priorities.”
Though there are many ways to earn distinction in a command, community and career, Kalafatis is most proud of re-enlisting in January 2018.
“During my second enlistment, I’ve grown so much as a person and leader,” said Kalafatis.
Serving in the Navy is a continuing tradition of military service for Kalafatis, who has military ties with family members who have previously served. Kalafatis is honored to carry on that family tradition.
“I have two brothers, two uncles, one cousin, and a grandfather who all served,” said Kalafatis. “Their service definitely influenced my decision to join the military.”
As a member of one of the U.S. Navy’s most relied upon assets, Kalafatis 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 gives me the opportunity to constantly challenge myself and grow as a leader,” added Kalafatis.