When Peggy Thomas was helping her daughter, Kathryn, move onto the USS Bataan in 2014, the realization hit her like a ton of bricks. Her “baby girl was grown up.” Mind you, this wasn’t just some new gig as a manager at some coffeehouse down the street. This was an assignment as a division officer aboard a Wasp-class amphibious assault ship — a metallic behemoth that weighs 40,000 tons and stretches 844 feet with a crew of about 2,000 marines, 1,000 enlisted men and women, and approximately 100 officers.
Going from the mangroves to the management of sailors on a ship transpired largely because of Kathryn’s adamant stance about attending Farragut. When Kathryn’s father, Dr. Donald Thomas, moved the family from California to Florida in the summer before Kathryn’s fifth-grade year, it was a no-brainer.
Kathryn has since moved on to the USS Antietam, which is deployed in Yokosuka, Japan from 2015-16. Over the next several months, she will perform the duties of Training Officer on the Ticonderoga-class guided missile cruiser, a much smaller vessel than the Bataan.
While her first few weeks have included a rough 10-hour day at sea replete with 15-foot waves — “the longest 10 hours of her life,” Mrs. Thomas knows Kathryn will continue her nautical journey confidently, or as Admiral David Farragut would say, “full speed ahead.”
“She’s always put her mind to something,” Mrs. Thomas said. “I will always remember when I took Katie over (to Montessori by the Sea school in St. Pete Beach) for her first day of kindergarten. I was expecting to park the car, walk her to class, hugs, tears, the whole first day of school emotions. That first day, she got out of the van, and I said, ‘I will walk you up.’ She said, ‘No, I’m okay. I’ll walk by myself.’ She got out of the car and walked up the sidewalk without turning back, in full confidence. She’s been like that ever since.”