Story by Mass Communication Specialist Chief Todd MacDonald, Navy Recruiting District Richmond Public Affairs


FAIRFAX, Va. (NNS) - When you meet with Navy Recruiting District Richmond’s Boatswain’s Mate 2nd Class Stephen Hunter for the first time, you begin to realize a recruiter is not some smooth-talking salesperson. This guy cares. His eyes get smaller during your conversation. They lock onto you as he listens intently to whatever it is you are saying. He pauses, takes a moment to process what he has just heard before he formulates his response, giving you the feeling he was truly listening to everything you told him. This is the welcoming introduction to the Navy applicants are greeted with when they walk into Navy Recruiting Station Fairfax.

Hunter was born in Fairfax and raised in the farmland of Ohio. He comes from a long line of family members who served in the military during Vietnam, Desert Storm, and Operation Iraqi Freedom. 

Hunter said his grandfather, a Korean War Veteran from the famed 1st Calvary Division in Fort Hood, Texas, who is a recipient of the Silver Star and Purple Heart, was the person he always looked up to. 

The thought of following in his grandfather’s footsteps was always in Hunter’s mind, he said, but there was something that happened when he was in elementary school that cemented his conviction to join the military.

“I was in school sitting at my desk watching the events of 9/11 unfold on a TV in our classroom, it validated my calling to serve and protect America,” he said. “I wanted to be a part of something bigger than myself. I wanted to serve my country.”

Six years later Hunter’s first command was aboard USS Cowpens (CG-63), a guided missile cruiser forward deployed to Yokosuka, Japan, a long way from the heartland of America.

Nearly 11 years into his Navy career, he attributes his success to his lifelong mentor Lt. Benjamin Heverly, a prior hospital corpsman master chief.

“As a young Sailor at my first command, he saw the potential in me and believed in me,” Hunter said. “He pushed me past what I thought my capabilities were and helped me realize I could do more than I thought I could.”

As a young boatswain’s mate, another influencer early in Hunter’s career was Chief Boatswain’s Mate Christopher Haws who held himself and his Sailors to a high standard.

Hunter said without Haws’ steadfast support, he would never have been a part of the ships Honor Guard or thought of enrolling in the Bombardier Recreational Products Certification Technician Course for Evinrude Motors. 

“He gave me solid advice, even when I didn’t want it or didn’t understand it at the time, but I listened and later in my career some of the things he told me then, started to make sense,” he admitted.

Upon completion of his tour in Japan, Hunter reported to Expeditionary Combat Skills in Gulf Port, Miss., and graduated from Riverine Crewman and Combat Skills course of instruction in Camp Lejeune Marine Corps Base, N.C. 

From there he reported to Riverine Squadron Three in Yorktown, Va., in April 2011. He became a plank owner there as a crewmember during the building and commissioning of his ship. While assigned as a Boat Gunner he earned his Enlisted Expeditionary Warfare Designation and deployed several times to the 6th and 5th Fleet areas of responsibility in support of Theater combatant commander priorities.

The diversity of assignments and opportunities in Hunter’s career didn’t end there.

In September 2014, he reported to Naval Special Warfare Logistics and Support Unit 3 homeported in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. During his tenure there he earned a career milestone achieving his highest qualification of Petty Officer in Charge of Small Craft designation. 

Additionally, he finished the BRP qualification as a factory certified Evinrude outboard technician, which he began at his first command in Japan, and which took more than 1,000 hours of instruction, graded exams, and practical applications to complete. He also graduated from the U.S. Air Force Load Planner Course supporting several task units for Seal Delivery Vehicle Team One in support of national missions.

After another successful tour in Hawaii, Hunter set his sights towards the recruiting world.

“I felt that a recruiting command could benefit from the untraditional career path I’ve taken and the many different facets of warfare communities I have been exposed to,” he said.

This serves him well at Naval Recruiting Station Fairfax. Hunter takes his diverse background and all of the opportunities the Navy’s given him and shares it with young people.

“I was fortunate to have mentors and successful people around me that were critical to my success,” he said. “As a Navy Recruiter I have the opportunity to be that first mentor and positive influencer to a Future Sailor.”

This philosophy helped Hunter garner the 2018 Region East Master Chief Bakarian Award for the best new recruiter. 

He considers it a great honor to be the recipient of such a prestigious award and credits his shipmates and leadership for guiding and believing in him.

“There’s the popular saying, ‘There is no I in team,’” he states, “But there is an I in professionalism, motivation, merit and positive attitude, which I try to bring to my recruiting station every day.”

Seeing the impact of his efforts in the lives of the next generation of the Navy is one of the rewarding aspects for Hunter as a recruiter.

“It lets me take ownership of what the future of the Navy will look like,” he said. “I can help shape the course of history by recruiting the best and brightest Sailors who will become future military and community leaders.” 

He said it also allows him to also take personal initiative and to watch the Sailors grow.

When asked what job he would have done in the civilian world if he never joined the Navy, Hunter’s blue eyes get small again as he processes the question in his mind. After a pause he replies by saying he has never thought about it because the Navy has never felt like a job, but more of a lifestyle to him. 

“The Navy has always been able to keep my interest alive with each new challenge at every turn,” he said. “I have been able to be a small part of making history rather than just watching it from the sidelines and I wouldn’t change that for anything.”

The Navy’s recruiting force totals over 6,100 personnel in more than 1,000 recruiting stations around the globe. Their combined goal is to attract the highest quality candidates to assure the ongoing success of America’s Navy.

NRC consists of a command headquarters, two Navy Recruiting Regions, 21 Navy Recruiting Districts and 5 Navy Talent Acquisition Groups that serve more than 1,000 recruiting stations across the country.

For more news from Commander, Navy Recruiting Command, go to http:// Follow Navy Recruiting on Facebook ( and on Twitter (@usnavyrecruiter).



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Updated March 1, 2017 (kbh)