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NEWS | Sept. 20, 2023

NSWC PCD Hispanic Heritage Month Spotlight: Lt. Rich Morales

By Jeremy Roman, NSWC PCD Public Affairs

Lt. Rich Morales serves the fleet as the Naval Surface Warfare Center Panama City Division (NSWC PCD) acting executive officer and fleet liaison officer. He has been assigned to NSWC PCD for nearly two and half years and is responsible for leading a diverse team of service members to use their unique skillsets to enhance the NSWC PCD mission—to dominate the littorals. By ensuring his team’s service backgrounds are correctly applied to a code or project, he leverages their fleet knowledge and experience to provide the Navy with the best technology and support possible.

“I joined the Navy because I wanted to make a difference, and I felt like the Navy provided me the best opportunity to do that, while also allowing me to see the world from a unique perspective that standard tourism couldn’t provide.”

In 2015, he received his commission and bachelor's in aerospace engineering from the U.S. Naval Academy and earned his wings within the rotary wing community in 2017. This Chicago native recalls the impact of his upbringing within his Hispanic household—Mexican and Puerto Rican—and how it helped him get to where he is today.

“The two biggest takeaways were the importance of a strong work ethic and the benefits of a close community and family,” said Morales. “The drive to achieve a set goal and having a strong team to help achieve that goal is a proven method for success and I’ve seen that within the Navy as a whole, as well as in my own career. I’ve had several family members serve in various branches of the military, and seeing their success during and after their military careers, taught me the value of that drive and persistence.”

Prior to his current position, Morales helped manage the NSWC PCD Unmanned Aerial System Program and Airfield Operations. His fleet aircraft was the MH-60R Seahawk helicopter and its primary missions were anti-submarine warfare, anti-surface warfare, electromagnetic warfare, command and control, and non-combat operations.

“My time in the cockpit has taught me the importance of communication and leadership in order to maximize mission effectiveness and safety,” said Morales. “Conversely, my time here, has also shown me a vital part of the mission. One of the things I enjoy most about NSWC PCD is seeing people from so many different academic, technical, or military backgrounds come together to help the fleet be the best fighting force possible. During my time in the fleet, something I did not see was just how vast the technical support network that kept us going really was, but now I can share that perspective firsthand.”