St. Thomas native participates in Navy training in Baltic Sea


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St. Thomas native Petty Officer 3rd Class Sigui Howard-Magras was one of hundreds of U.S. Navy sailors participating in the annual multinational military exercise in the Baltic Sea - BALTOPS 2014 - that took place in late May and early June.

The training exercise included 30 ships, 50 aircraft and about 3,000 personnel, and Howard-Magras, 22, is a communications technician working on the High Frequency Radio Group systems.

Howard-Magras, 22, was born on St. Thomas to Walt Magras and Carla Howard, and he joined the Navy as an electrician's technician in December 2010. After graduation from boot camp and "A" school in Great Lakes, Ill., he went to Naval Air Station Jacksonville in Florida, where he worked on Tactical Mobile Acoustic Support System at the Tactical Operations Center.

He currently is assigned to the U.S. 6th Fleet's command and control ship USS Mount Whitney, which has its homeport in Gaeta, Italy.

"Honestly I joined the Navy to receive some structure and discipline in my life. I feel as if I didn't join I would be living with my mother," said Howard-Magras. "You have your good days and your bad days, however, in the long run I feel that the skills I learn here will carry on in my future endeavors."

Howard-Magras' mother, Carla, still lives on St. Thomas, and his father lives in Philadelphia.

The High Frequency Radio Group, which is a vital component of the BALTOPS exercises, consists of more than 150 different parts, and Howard-Magras' responsibility is to maintain and repair the equipment, which includes transmitters, receivers, power amplifiers and power supplies.

"With over 150 pieces of equipment to maintain, it turns into a real workout. However, my workload greatly depends on whether or not the HFRG needs to be repaired," said Howard-Magras. "During BALTOPS, there's more chances for the equipment to break since it's used more often, so my workload greatly increases."

Howard-Magras said he is privileged to be an ambassador of the United States and a dignitary to exemplify Mount Whitney's reputation of pride and professionalism during this multinational exercise.

"My time in the Navy has given me new perspectives on a lot of things," he said. "The workload can get tough at times, but at the end of the day, it's all unicorns and rainbows because everything is always okay in the end - if it's not okay yet, it's just not the end yet."

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