A 2015 Midlothian High School graduate and Midlothian, Texas, native is serving in the U.S. Navy as part of the world’s largest international maritime warfare exercise, Rim of the Pacific.

Petty Officer 2nd Class Ashley Neal is a cryptological technician (technical) aboard USS O'Kane, currently operating out of Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.

A Navy cryptological technician is responsible for the computer equipment that defends the ship against missile attacks.

Neal applies the lessons she learned from Midlothian to her work in the Navy.

“Time and money management and many other aspects of life are some of the things that my father taught me that help me today in the Navy,” Neal said.

As the world’s largest international maritime exercise, RIMPAC provides a unique training opportunity that helps participants foster and sustain cooperative relationships that are critical to ensuring safety at sea and security on the world’s oceans. RIMPAC 2018 is the 26th exercise in the series that began in 1971.

The theme of RIMPAC 2018 is "Capable, Adaptive, Partners." The participating nations and forces exercise a wide range of capabilities and demonstrate the inherent flexibility of maritime forces. These capabilities range from disaster relief and maritime security operations to sea control and complex warfighting. The relevant, realistic training program includes, gunnery, missile, anti-submarine and air defense exercises, as well as amphibious, counter-piracy, mine clearance operations, explosive ordnance disposal and diving and salvage operations.

“I’m looking forward to being able to work with other countries and learn more about how their militaries operate,” Neal said.

This is the first time Israel, Sri Lanka and Vietnam are participating in RIMPAC. Additional firsts include New Zealand serving as sea combat commander and Chile serving as combined force maritime component commander. This is the first time a non-founding RIMPAC nation (Chile) will hold a component commander leadership position.

“I’m more proud of obtaining the rank of petty officer second class and earning my surface warfare pin within two years of service,” Neal said.

Twenty-six nations, 46 surface ships, five submarines, and more than 200 aircraft and 25,000 personnel will participate in the biennial Rim of the Pacific Exercise. This year's exercise includes forces from Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Colombia, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Israel, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Peru, the Republic of Korea, the Republic of the Philippines, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Tonga, the United Kingdom, the United States and Vietnam.

As a member of the U.S. Navy, Neal and other sailors know they are part of a legacy that will last beyond their lifetimes providing the Navy the nation needs.

“I take pride in protecting those close to me and making personal sacrifices for the benefit of others,” Neal added.

Additional information about RIMPAC is available at