“There is a great big world out there that isn’t so scary, said Petty Officer 2nd Class, Virdia Afi Ofei, 7 years into her Navy career. She decided long before enlisting at 32 years old, she wanted to serve her country, reach her full potential and see the world. “Though my family adamantly opposed my decision for a military career, I wanted to be a leader and a military career is a calling that very few people receive and can actually do.”
Born and raised in Chicago, Illinois, where she graduated from high school in 1994, she is grateful for her well-meaning protective family and their desire to shield her from “bad things in the world,” Petty Officer Ofei eventually concluded protection from adversity was impossible. “My brother was murdered in the Chicago streets when I was 24 years old.”
Virdia feels that parents must learn, “What you want for your children and what children want for themselves may be different. It is impossible to know the future; so children must be encouraged to be brave and live their own lives.” Presently living in Franklin, Wisconsin, she wanted to be near her Chicago family and at the same time live somewhere new. She chose living near Milwaukee, Wisconsin and Since 2013 has worked at Chicago District Navy Recruiting Station, in Greenfield, Wisconsin ,
“I think of myself as the bridge between what the Navy needs and what individuals need. Through the Navy’s Core Values honor, courage and commitment, I take care of future sailors like family, as I teach them, they represent the Navy and their family members back home. They learn discipline, the benefit of hard work and to depend on themselves, rather than their parents.“
Her own inspiration, to pursue a Navy career, comes from the strong black women in her family. “They picked cotton, sewed their own clothing and her grandmother, who she is named after, plus her aunt, Dorris Bibbs, loved her enough to discipline and teach her. That foundation allowed her to meet and work with different types of people.
Petty Officer Ofei recalls major adjustments during the first days in Recruit Training Command, a “boot camp” at Great Lakes, Illinois, followed with training for Ship Services in Meridian, Mississippi in 2007. With schooling under her belt, she jump-started her desire to travel the world. In 2008 flying to the U.S. Navel Base in Sasebo, Japan on Kyushu Island, she met up with the USS Tortuga Ship where she was stationed for four years. As part of the ship’s mission, in 2010, she spent time at Iwo Jima celebrating the anniversary of the World War II battle fought there followed by deployment to the countries Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Brunei and the Philippines. In 2011, on the LSD 45 Comstock, she docked in San Diego, California.
She advanced in rank to E4, Petty Officer 3rd class in 2009; to E5 Petty Officer 2nd class in the 2012 and now works on achieving E6, Petty Officer 1st class. Her awards include the following medals and commendations: Navy Marine Core Achievement Medal, 2 Good Conduct Medals and 3 Recruiting Gold Wreaths.
Petty Officer Ofei, single, says, “I learned that excellence is doing the right thing for the right reasons. I am constantly changing for the better – more determined, much stronger, and making a difference in the world. I learned how to communicate better and express myself.” She attends the Jubilee Christian Family Church in Franklin, Wisconsin where Reverend Wayne E. Rohde presides. Living in Franklin, her hobbies are baking, singing and playing the piano.