As Freeport LNG approaches commissioning of its liquefaction terminal, the company continues to add new employees, many with fascinating mixes of experience. New hire, Morgan Oliver, brings with her a real triple threat: young, world traveler, military veteran.
Born on the island of Guam, Morgan was a military brat destined to hail from many different countries. Her father, a 21-year career Navy Supply Officer, moved the family along the east coast and also ventured as far as Naples Italy, touring various countries including Spain, France, Germany, Austria, and Switzerland before retiring in 1998 and settling in the small east Texas town of Burkeville.
By then, Morgan was about to start high school and began thinking about her next steps into college and eventually, a career.
"All of my family went to Texas A&M University in College Station," explains Morgan, "and my Dad said 'Hey, you want to go to college for free? We can fill out a military scholarship.'" And so the family tradition would grow one person longer. Morgan entered A&M and majored in Spatial Sciences, an interdisciplinary program combining geographic information systems (GIS) and remote sensing—basically information analysis through satellites. At the same time, she joined the Aggie Corps of Cadets and the Naval ROTC program, which, along with her scholarship, committed her to four years of active duty service following graduation. By her senior year, Morgan achieved the rank of Deputy Commander of the Corps.
When she commissioned to the Navy, Morgan selected the surface warfare community: carriers, destroyers and cruisers. Her choice for location and class, called a "dream sheet," was San Diego. "I wanted to be a west coast sailor," says Morgan "and I ended up getting my first choice there, and was stationed on board the USS Rushmore, LSD 47 (Whidbey Island-class dock landing ship for the Marines). As a newly minted Ensign, she was assigned to the engineering department as Repair Division Officer in charge of installed and portable damage control and firefighting equipment with 30 to 60 sailors under her command. During this time, the ship was in dry dock for her mid-life overhaul requiring 14-hour days, 6 days a week. She would often call her Dad to talk "shop" about her work. "It was trial by fire," she remembers, "and it was drinking from the fire hose. But you learn really fast, and sometimes the hard way. And I can guarantee, you'll never forget."
After two years aboard USS Rushmore, Morgan was reassigned to Everett, Washington as the Training Officer aboard the USS Shoup, DDG 86 (guided missile destroyer). She was in charge of all warfare program certifications—surface, air, and anti-submarine—that were maintained in 11 different disciplines, as well as the personnel qualifications of 300 sailors. During this tour, she was deployed with the ship overseas. A month after reporting, the Shoup left for the Middle East to support operations in the Persian Gulf. They participated in a number of multinational exercises, anti-piracy operations, and contingency operations in the Red Sea when Syria was undergoing its early gassing incidents. They would be overseas for 313 days, the second-longest deployment of a naval ship since World War II.
"It was trial by fire, and
it was drinking from the
fire hose. But you learn really fast, and sometimes the hard way. And I can guarantee, you'll
Morgan completed her active duty with the USS Shoup, and began her search for work in the civilian community. But she wasn't ready to completely leave the military, and decided to sign up with the active reserves where she would drill once a month and do some military training for at least two weeks out of the year. Her first command was in Pensacola, Florida with an Assault Craft Unit running Maritime Prepositioning Force Utility Boats, (MPFUB). She ultimately became the commanding officer with that unit after two years. Today she drills out of Dallas with a Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) detachment that supports the ships in San Diego.
During her civilian employment hunt, Morgan first found a job in Corpus Christi working as a research assistant with Texas A&M's Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies. This was followed by a position as a Customer Service Agent Assistant with Johnson Controls Inc., a HVAC company. Later, she was hired as a Scheduler for Turner & Townsend. One of their clients was Freeport LNG, and she was assigned to the LQF for two and a half years in charge of maintaining owner scope reports, the risk register, and the scheduler for the Operational Readiness and Commissioning Assurance (ORCA) team. "This work relates a lot to the military," she notes. "Being a Training and Operations Officer, you think in the long term. You've gotta figure out what you need to do in succession, in order to make a mission or project successful."
Freeport LNG saw a similar great fit with Morgan's skills and recently hired her as the Preventative Maintenance Coordinator for the LQF. It's an evolving position and requires her to be flexible, but she has no doubt that she can adapt, as she continues to think fast and take charge as she did in the Navy. "Before I was in the Corps of Cadets," she remembers, "I was the wallflower that would sit back, and hated speaking in front of people. Nowadays, if it's a topic I know, give me five minutes to prep - we'll be good to go!"