Following God’s plan… Elizabethton graduate Howard follows heart by joining the Navy

Published 9:04 pm Wednesday, May 26, 2021

If you put a fishing rod in Hank Howard’s hands along with a fishing boat under his feet, then the recent Elizabethton graduated is right at home.

But after graduation, Howard’s plans include leaving the small waters of the surrounding area and hitting the ocean on an aircraft carrier to move aircraft to the sling in readying to launch the aircraft off the deck of the carrier.

Howard’s ultimate goal will also be pursuing an opportunity to become a part of an elite group in the Navy Seals.

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It’s quite a hefty goal for a young man just fresh out of high school but Howard admits that he is following the leadership of a higher power who has directed his footsteps in the path that he has chosen.

“I mean growing up as a kid it has always been in the back of my mind as something that I wanted to do,” Howard shared during a celebration at Elizabethton High School in his honor. “Here recently in the last six months, I have been praying about what my future holds and this is what God wanted me to do.

“I kept praying and he kept revealing this is what he wanted me to do and the decision – I know it’s the right decision.”

Howard knows about the sacrifice of serving in the military as he has been living with the Kenny Hopland family while
his mother, Margaret Eggers, has been deployed to the Middle East with the United States Army.

His mother’s service has been a shining example to Howard of the importance of serving one’s country even if it means being away from family.

“Her going overseas and fighting for our country and helping our men and women – I have always looked up to that,” Howard said of his mother’s service.

“It’s always been something that I wanted to do myself and considering all her service I feel like I have to do something for our country as well.”

Howard’s recruiting officer, Naval Petty Officer Kodey Jones, said it was important that young men and women continue to make the decision to serve in the military after graduating high school.

“It’s very important,” said Petty Officer Jones. “The military is a big part of national security and otherwise, and if it’s not for that reason we can offer career opportunities and futures to young men and women who have no idea of what they want to do.

“So it kind of gives them that direction and a sense of belonging that some people are so dire looking for.”

Howard was caught by surprise with the turnout to celebrate his signing with the Navy.

He said that many of the same people that showed up would be those who will be praying for him as he begins his journey toward being a Navy Seal.

“All these people showing up for me is emotional,” Howard commented. “I wasn’t expecting a big turn out like this. I thought it was just going to be a few family and friends but I love and appreciate all those who have come..

“I know the biggest challenge is going to be my mental strength because they will try to break you and tear you down. So I have to find strength through the Lord and I know there are a lot of people praying for me.”

Petty Officer Jones said that Howard will go through the same routine that others who join the Navy follow.

“So it’s a little different as it all depends on what field that they are going into,” Petty Officer Jones shared.

“The same thing for everybody is that you go to boot camp, you go to A-school, and then you go to the fleet where you check into your first command and begin your career.”

Howard was thankful for his recruiting officer stating that Petty Officer Jones had made the process very simple from filling out the paperwork and other things that were needed and others would have the same experience if they chose to join.

And while no one truly knows what the future holds, Howard is trusting the One who created him to be in full control.

“I feel like I was made for something special and I know God has big plans for me,” said Howard.