Lafayette local promoted to Rear Admiral

17 Oct 2014 | 01:11

Capt. Linnea J. Sommer-Weddington of Lafayette was promoted to rear admiral (lower half) during a ceremony at Naval Air Station North Island in Coronado, Cali., Oct. 4.

Rear Admiral Sommer-Weddington graduated High Point Regional High School in 1977.

"Becoming a flag officer was not anything I set out to do," Sommer-Weddington said. "My aim always was to accomplish the mission, do my best in whatever assignment I had and leave things a bit better."

According to Master Chief Cryptologic Technician (technical) Kristie Barbier, a senior enlisted leader at Information Dominance Corps (IDC) Midwest, leaving things a bit better than when she found them is exactly what Sommer-Weddington did throughout her career. Barbier said she views her as a true mentor who showed her and others there are no roadblocks to success — even for women.

Not even a bout with cancer slowed her down. In 2008, Sommer-Weddington was diagnosed with breast cancer. With the support of friends, family, and colleagues, she battled her disease while still staying in command. She is now in remission.

Guest speaker Rear Adm. James Plehal praised the Navy's newest admiral and discussed her success as a leader with more than 25 years of experience.

"From the beginning she proved that you don't have to be a grandstander, you don't have to be shrill to be heard, you don't have to sell out to compromise, you don't have to be a cut throat person to get ahead (nor) somebody who sucks all the air out of the room in order to be strong and effective leader," said Plehal.

Plehal went on to say that Sommer-Weddington is the first female reserve officer to carry a star on her shoulder boards as commander, Information Dominance Corps (IDC) Southwest. She is among only a handful of female flag officers who serve in the Navy today.

Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel announced Sommer-Weddinton's nomination in July.

A New Jersey native, Sommer-Weddington graduated with a Bachelor of Science from Slippery Rock State College, Pennsylvania, before enlisting in the Navy as a cryptologic technician interpretive seaman. She became a Russian linguist during the end of the Cold War era and left active duty as a petty officer second class in 1986. Sommer-Weddington returned two years later as a commissioned officer in the Navy Reserve. She earned her Master of Business Administration from Meredith College in Raleigh, North Carolina, in 1996.

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— By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Joy M. Kirch-Kelling, Navy Public Affairs Support Element West