CLASS OF 1974
Erika Lauren Sauer graduated as Valedictorian from Rice Avenue Union High School in 1974. She was a member of the National Honor Society, Union Girl's Athletics (UGA), and the Ski Club. During her junior year she tried out for the girls' basketball team. It had just been reestablished after 25 years without a program, through the gigantic efforts of about a half a dozen high school students and the assistance of Mr. McLaren who convinced Principal Golden to reestablish the girls' basketball program. As a member of the team her junior and senior year, the success was phenomenal as they won two Erie County Championships and went to the Division 10 play-offs in those first two years. High school girls at Girard continue to enjoy the opportunity to compete in basketball today.
After graduation, Erika went to college and was a member of the women's basketball team at both Edinboro State University and Rutgers University competing in basketball Division and National play-offs under the Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women (AIAW) the precursor to NCAA for women. She graduated with a BA in Microbiology from Rutgers University and continued her education at the University of Delaware working on her masters in Exercise Physiology and was the Assistant Women's Basketball Coach. In the spring of 1982, she received her Master of Science degree and returned to Girard where she studied Nursing and was the Girls Junior Varsity Basketball Coach at Girard High School for two years.
In October 1984, Erika enlisted in the Navy as a meteorologist and was stationed at the Naval Oceanography Command Center/Joint Typhoon Warning Center in Guam followed by a tour at the Naval Oceanography Command Detachment, Barbers Point, Hawaii. Erika was selected for Officer Candidate School in Newport, Rhode Island, and was commissioned an Ensign in the Navy in March 1989.
Her sea tours were onboard the USNS Harkness (TAGS-31) conducting hydrographic surveys in the Indonesian archipelago, onboard the amphibious assault ship USS Belleau Wood (LHA-3) forward deployed from Sasebo, Japan, as the OA Division Officer and PHIBRON ELEVEN Oceanographer, and onboard the aircraft carrier USS John F Kennedy (CV-67), as the Carrier Strike Group Six Oceanographer deployed to the Gulf in 2004 for operations IRAQI FREEDOM and ENDURING FREEDOM.
For shore duty, Erika's tours included assignments at numerous meteorology and oceanography commands where she served as a Meteorology Watch Officer, Deputy of Survey Operations, Air Special Operations Officer (deploying for Special Reconnaissance Operations missions in the Western Pacific), Assistant Project Manager for the development of standard training and tactics for the improvement of Air Anti-Submarine Warfare proficiency, Officer-in-Charge of a Meteorology and Oceanography detachment, J2 Directorate Geospatial Information and Systems Officer at US European Command in Germany, and Deputy Chief of Staff for Requirements, Programs and Assessments at HQs Naval Meteorology and Oceanography Command. Additionally, she earned a Master of Science degree in Meteorology and Oceanography from Naval Postgraduate School, Monterey, Ca.
Erika'a first command was as the Commanding Officer (CO) of the US National Intelligence Cell providing direct support of NATO forces HQs in Sarajevo conducting counter-insurgency missions for operation ENDURING FREEDOM in Bosnia-Herzegovina. In 2008, Erika was selected as the first female Commander of the Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) Khost and served as CO in a combat zone conducting governance and development counter-insurgency missions for operation ENDURING FREEDOM in Afghanistan. Most recently in 2010, Erika was selected as a Navy Captain and in 2011 became the first female Commanding Officer at Fleet Numerical Meteorology and Oceanography Center, Monterey, Ca.
Throughout her career and whenever possible, Erika contributed to the community by supporting local food banks, beach cleanup efforts, a hospital aid volunteer, a marathon aid station volunteer, and numerous veteran support activities. Furthermore, she participated on and coached various military base basketball teams.