He may sail the world and command an expeditionary strike group, but the U.S. Navy admiral returned home this week to revisit his humble beginnings.
Rear Adm. Cedric Pringle stopped through Sumter on Monday during an executive outreach trip to …
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Rear Adm. Cedric Pringle stopped through Sumter on Monday during an executive outreach trip to his hometown and the Columbia area that involved meeting with local leaders in government, diversity, education and veterans groups. Sumter High School has grown and been renovated since his 1982 graduation, but he still sees a connection between the school's educational opportunities and his duties in the Navy.
"We're always looking for students who have an eye for STEM topics and are interested in next-generation technology," the San Diego-based Expeditionary Strike Group 3 commander said. "I was always inspired by STEM topics, and the way we do business in the Navy just fit into that mold very well."
Pringle, who labels himself as a lifetime Gamecock between his Sumter High and University of South Carolina alumni status, said he was inspired to join in the Navy by his four-years-older brother, who would travel to various places in South America with his Naval assignment and send postcards back to his brother in high school.
Pringle's education took him from USC to receive his commission through the Naval ROTC to his Master of Science in Financial Management from the Naval Postgraduate School and his Master of Arts in National Security Strategy from the Naval War College.
His first three years were spent as a junior officer in the engineering department on an aircraft carrier, then as chief engineer responsible for the entire department. Since being commissioned, he has traveled to 76 countries, "a lot that I didn't know existed when I was a student."
In 2012, he took command of the Navy's first hybrid propulsion drive ship, USS Makin Island. During his tenure, the ship completed its maiden deployment and earned the Battle "E" Award, the Retention Excellence Award, Afloat and Aviation Operation Safety Awards and the President's Volunteer Service Award for community outreach.
He helped provide hurricane relief in Louisiana after Katrina and in Haiti after Matthew.
Back home this week, he visited Sumter's 3D lab.
"It was cool to see the 3D lab because we have them on board our ships now. So, that type of skill set that is built here can be employed on board a Navy ship," he said.
He said he joined the Navy to challenge himself and to see the world. The training is hard, but the Navy does not set you up for failure, he said.
"There are 130 or so career fields in the Navy. Not everyone will be admiral, and that's OK. If you want to be a firefighter, a doctor, a lawyer, those skill sets are in the Navy," he said.
Pringle has been in his career field for 32 years, and he still gets inspired by those he works with.
He has served on Capitol Hill and ashore in various positions, including as director of the Navy Senate Liaison for the Secretary of the Navy's Office of Legislative Affairs.
He has traveled to Afghanistan with Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-SC, and to Vietnam with the late Sen. John McCain.
McCain's drive and his leadership qualities and his priority to be a public servant inspired Pringle to start going on trips like this week's, to educate the public and today's students about the opportunities available to them through the Navy.
"When McCain passed last year, I was reminded last year of how much of a public servant he was, and I was inspired to do more," he said.
The Navy needs talented individuals, and who knows how far that ripple can travel if Pringle keeps reaching out to those still in schools on land. That inspiration could dive deeper than the oceans he sails across in between his trips home.
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