FORT GEORGE G. MEADE, Md.— Warfighting is no longer confined by geography in the 21st century. The battlefield has expanded into cyberspace and there, it’s fought using keyboards.
Petty Officer 1st Class Joshua Mefford, a cyber-warfighter, recently distinguished himself in the field of network security. Vice Adm. Ross Myers, commander, U.S. Fleet Cyber Command and U.S. 10th Fleet awarded Mefford the Joint Service Commendation Medal, Monday.
“Seldom can we point to one person making a difference; however, you are that example! You are a success story of how a single person can make a difference,” Myers said to Mefford at an informal presentation in front of his colleagues at Computer Network Operations.
Mefford earned this recognition for work that directly impacted national security on dozens of occasions, with results that were included in several Presidential and National Security Council briefs.
Most of the work in the information warfare community is highly classified and for that reason, it is rare to be publicly recognized or even noticed. As a Cryptologic Technician who specializes in networks, Mefford conducts computer network exploitation and offensive cyber operations.
Mefford accepted the award, while recognizing his colleagues. He says hitting the right keys was a result of the support his team provided him.
“It took a lot of people to get here. The work doesn’t happen in a vacuum,” said Mefford. “Although I was on the keyboard, the award is all of ours.”
Division Leading Chief Petty Officer Patrick Lucia said that Mefford receiving this award was not a stroke of luck, “He is the best I’ve seen. Mefford is one of the brightest people I know and is solely dedicated to the job.”
Mefford’s achievement is exemplary, but his path to this point is even more extraordinary. A native of Lexington, Kentucky, he joined the Navy in 2007. He was homeless at the time, causing him to drop out of high school after his first year, but he didn’t give up. He used the same drive as he demonstrated in earning his award to earn his GED diploma and pursue a naval career.
“The Navy has really cool jobs,” Mefford said. “I’m a computer person. When the [cryptologic technician (networking)] CTN rate was developing, I looked at the bibliography and study materials and saw I already owned a lot of the books in the bibs.”
Mefford hopes that not only will this set an example for his teammates and shipmates but inspire those who are facing challenges. He said that he rejected his status quo and refused to let his situation define him, “You can’t succeed without drive. I am never content. I always want to do something better than what I did the day before.”
By LT Darius Radzius, U.S. Fleet Cyber Command / U.S. 10th Fleet