Phoenix native in command of the US Pacific Submarine Fleet - DC News FOX 5 DC WTTG

Phoenix native in command of the US Pacific Submarine Fleet

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PHOENIX (KSAZ) - The Commander of the Pacific Submarine Fleet has roots in the valley. A young boy has grown into one of the most powerful men in the navy, an admiral with weapons under his command that could obliterate half the world, and he is not from some seaport, he still calls Phoenix home.

They are maybe the most lethal war machines ever built nuclear submarines. Carrying weapons so devastating that just one of them could lay waste to most nations.

Being a commander of one of these subs is a huge responsibility a huge feat. Being the commander of all the submarines in the Pacific Ocean is the job of Rear Admiral Phillip sawyer who was "born and raised in Phoenix, Arizona," said rear admiral Phillip Sawyer.

You heard right Rear Adm. Sawyer is a graduate of Maryvale high school this is a photo we dug up from 1976 his freshman year at Maryvale high. He says it was a great place to grow up.

"We'd travel a mile and be out in the desert shooting rabbits or dove hunting. It has changed a little bit from my early days there," he said.

Sawyer was a good student, but his family did not have the money to send him to college, so he decided to try to go to the Naval Academy to get an education and a career.

He admits it was an unusual move for a young man who had spent his whole life in the desert. "I think it's kinda strange, I think back when I  first went to the Naval Academy and a guy from Arizona going to the Naval Academy... I'd seen the ocean from  San Diego the Pacific side but nothing on the Atlantic," he said.

He has seen plenty of ocean since then, working his way up from engineering officer on a submarine eventually commanding his own sub, and just last year was promoted to lead all submarine operations for the Pacific Fleet. He says the navy is a great place for men and women with ambition.

"It doesn't matter your gender, it's not race, it's not color, it's not religion, it's none of those things. You get on a submarine you are expected to do a job. And if you do that job well you will be promoted, and there is no real endpoint, there is no ceiling you can hit," said sawyer.

Rear Adm. Sawyer hasn't his ceiling yet, who knows maybe he'll run the whole navy someday. As for Phoenix, "I get back, very infrequently now no matter where we are where the navy put us Phoenix and the valley will always be considered home," he said.

Sawyer lives with his wife at Pearl Harbor where from his home he can look out onto the U.S.S. Arizona memorial every single day.

Read about life on one of the submarines in Sawyer's command: Inside the U.S.S. Ohio, a nuclear submarine in the Pacific Fleet
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