Morgan Hill native and Live Oak alumnus Samuel Iwanaga is currently serving in Japan as a petty officer second class and information systems technician for the Navy. Photo: Mass Communications Specialist 1st Class Bryan Niegel

Petty Officer Second Class Samuel Iwanaga, a native of Morgan Hill, is serving in Japan aboard the U.S. 7th Fleet flagship, USS Blue Ridge.

Iwanaga graduated from Ann Sobrato High School in 2021. The skills and values needed to succeed in the Navy are similar to those found in Morgan Hill, according to Iwanaga.

“My mom always said that family is everything,” said Iwanaga. “You kind of develop a family in the Navy. It’s important to develop a sense of loyalty.”

Iwanaga joined the Navy two years ago. Today, Iwanaga serves as an information systems technician.

“I joined the Navy to travel,” said Iwanaga. “I felt kind of stuck and I didn’t really know what to do. I wanted to do something that would bring me some kind of meaning. I’m in Japan now, so it worked out.”

Blue Ridge is the oldest operational ship in the Navy and, as the 7th Fleet command ship, supports an admiral’s staff that actively works to foster relationships with allies and partners in the Indo-Pacific region.

U.S. 7th Fleet provides security alongside allies and partners throughout the Indo-Pacific. As the U.S. Navy’s largest forward-deployed fleet, 7th Fleet operates roughly 50-70 ships and submarines and 140 aircraft with approximately 20,000 sailors.

Iwanaga serves in Japan as part of the forward-deployed naval forces. These naval forces operate with allies and partners to preserve a free and open Indo-Pacific region. Service members in this region are part of the U.S. Pacific Fleet, which has the largest area of responsibility in the world.

“We will earn and reinforce the trust and confidence of the American people every day,” said Adm. Lisa Franchetti, chief of naval operations. “Together we will deliver the Navy the nation needs.”

Iwanaga has many opportunities to achieve accomplishments during military service. 

“I’m proud of living and doing things on my own,” Iwanaga said. “I’m glad to have the confidence that I can be away from everybody and still be OK.”

Iwanaga added, “Service is a way to give back to the country. I could be in a lot worse situations in a lot of countries. The U.S. gives us so many opportunities, I just want to give something back.”

Iwanaga is grateful to others for helping make a Navy career possible.

“I’d like to thank my parents for supporting my decision,” added Iwanaga. “Even if they had some feelings that I should have maybe done something else, they’ve always been supportive of me.”

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