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Fallbrook native a triple threat as a Navy diver, rugby player and naval officer

In the annals of remarkable individuals who embody the essence of dedication, Ensign Megan Neyen stands as a beacon of inspiration. [Neyen's maiden name is Pinson.]

From the depths of the ocean as a Navy diver to the rugged rugby fields, her journey is a testament to her unwavering spirit and unrelenting pursuit of excellence as she embarks on a new chapter as a naval officer.

Neyen's journey began in Fallbrook, California, where she discovered her affinity for the water and her love for sports at a young age. Raised in a family with a strong military tradition, her parents and older brother served in the United States Marine Corps, and she also has a brother serving in the United States Army. Her path seemed preordained, yet her achievements have exceeded all expectations.

One of Neyen's most distinguished accomplishments was completing Navy Dive School at the Center for Explosive Ordnance Disposal and Diving, Panama City, Florida, in 2021. This specialized field demands an extraordinary level of physical and mental fortitude.

Her days are filled with tasks ranging from underwater maintenance to salvage operations, often in challenging and treacherous conditions. Her unwavering commitment to mastering this demanding profession has earned her the admiration of peers and superiors alike.

"I chose to be a diver because in high school my rugby team did this SEAL training and I loved it," Neyen said. "I loved how physically exhausting it was and mentally challenging. They told me that women could be divers and they go through this training, and I instantly was sold. But I told myself I must finish playing rugby before I join the Navy. So that has always been a goal of mine, to be a Navy diver.

"I will never forget being yelled at in dive school for taking more weight than the men for a farmer's carry, and someone switched with me for a split second, and I was told I needed to keep a higher standard as a woman. Most men have never even worked with a female diver. It's different, not in a bad way but something I wasn't used to."

Neyen started playing rugby in middle school when her PE teacher encouraged her to try out for the team. She immediately fell in love with the sport after her first practice.

Off-duty, she trades her diving gear for rugby boots. Her proficiency on the rugby pitch has not only garnered respect within the Navy community when she was recruited to join the Navy women's rugby team in 2022 but has also propelled her to compete at national and international levels as a member of the U.S. Women's rugby team in 2023. Her athleticism and strategic acumen make her a formidable force in the rugby arena, a testament to her dedication and passion for the sport.

Neyen graduated from Officer Candidate School at Officer Training Command Newport, Rhode Island, on Sept. 29, 2023. As a Surface Warfare Officer, she stands at the cusp of a new and exciting chapter.

Her journey, marked by relentless pursuit of excellence and unyielding commitment, positions her as a formidable leader in the making. Her ability to balance the demands of her various roles serves as a shining example of her resilience and organizational prowess.

"There are a lot of similarities between the U.S. team and serving," said Neyen. "You are taught to put the team before yourself just like you're taught to take care of your sailors. It's about work ethic and keeping a positive mental attitude.

"I chose to go the officer route for multiple reasons. But mainly, to make a change. I have a very positive attitude and I truly believe that leaders who care for their sailors will help retain them and in return will complete the mission. If I can help retention in the Navy while bringing a positive work environment, I will be successful."

Neyen's influence extends beyond her immediate responsibilities. She is known for her mentorship and support of junior personnel, inspiring them to reach their full potential. Her leadership style, characterized by a rare blend of empathy and firmness, sets her apart as a role model for aspiring naval officers.

"Take the hard days and remember those to build you," said Neyen. "Being a professional athlete and in the Navy is not easy by any means, you must be willing to sacrifice something but, in the end, - it's always worth it. Take the chance and build those around you on the way. Lighting someone else's light doesn't take away from yours."

Neyen's odyssey from being a young athlete to a Navy diver, rugby player, and naval officer is a testament to her indomitable spirit and unrelenting pursuit of excellence. Her story serves as a beacon of inspiration for anyone striving to push boundaries and achieve greatness.

She embodies the values of discipline, determination, and service, and her future as a naval officer promises to be as illustrious as her accomplishments. She is a true triple threat, a force to be reckoned with in every sense of the word.


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