A 2005 Glen Rose High School graduate, Petty Officer First Class Thomas Lance Hudgins, is in the running for the Navy title of Submarine Fleet Atlantic Senior Sailor of the Year.
Hudgins, 30, is a sonar technician assigned to the USS Florida, a nuclear-powered guided missile submarine based out of Kings Bay, Georgia. Hudgins was born in Cleburne but was raised in Glen Rose. He joined the Navy at age 20, in 2007.
Hudgins was named Senior Sailor of the Year for his command, then won the title of Submarine Squadron 16 Sailor of the Year. Next, he was presented with the Submarine Group 10 Sailor of the Year award.
If Hudgins can win the next level — Sublant (Atlantic Submarine Fleet) Sailor of the Year, he would advance for a chance to be named as the Sailor of the Year for the Navy’s entire Atlantic Fleet. If he can achieve that, Hudgins would be meritoriously advanced to the rank of chief petty officer.
During his recent leave time with his family in Glen Rose, Hudgins told the Glen Rose Reporter that after sailors are nominated for the first level of Sailor of the Year, they are interviewed by senior enlisted advisors. The sailors are assessed on their military bearing, appearance, boardsmanship and level of military knowledge, he said.
“I’m honored to represent my squadron and my group, at the (next) level,” said Hudgins, who goes by his middle name, Lance. He added that it’s “a testament to how good” the commands were that he served in.
Hudgins, who has three children who live with him in Georgia, is a son of Carl and Vanessa Metker of Glen Rose. He has one brother and six sisters.
It’s hardly surprising that Hudgins chose a Navy life, with multiple family members having served in the military. They include his father (Army) and an uncle, Shaun Hudgins (Navy), and his grandfathers in the Marines (Eddie Holder) and the Navy (Stephen Hagge). Hagge, who lives in Glen Rose, is a retired Navy commander. His great-grandfathers also served, including one who was a B-52 pilot in World War II.
“I was unsure about what I was going to do (coming out of high school), but I decided to go into the Navy because of influences of my family, and it’s a good choice,” Hudgins said.
In less than two months, Hudgins will reach the 10-year mark in the Navy.
“I’ve always had a love for my country, seeing the sacrifices people made to insure our freedom,” Hudgins said. “I love what I do. Between the people (I) serve with — the brotherhood — and serving my country, are the biggest things.”
Hudgins served on the USS Georgia submarine for several years, then was in training command as an instructor for three years before moving to the USS Florida in November of 2015.
Hudgins said his rank is currently E6, which would make him eligible for retirement after his 20th year of service. If he earns the Atlantic Fleet Senior Sailor of the Year award, the automatic promotion to chief petty officer that goes with it would bump his rank up to E7.
“I intend on serving and retiring after 20 or 30 years, depending on my pay grade that I reach,” Hudgins said.