From Haubstadt to Gotham

Navy ensign from the Tri-State will experience Fleet Week

Haubstadt, Indiana, is where a young Eric Wallace learned about hard work, and where his acumen for math and science also took shape.

Today, the 26-year-old graduate of Gibson Southern High School in Fort Branch, Indiana, and Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana, is an ensign in the U.S. Navy, having been commissioned in 2021. He’s among 2,500 Navy sailors receiving “Rock Star” status in New York City this week as part of the Navy’s 35th annual Fleet Week from May 24-29.

After starting his naval career in Charleston, South Carolina, Wallace is stationed aboard the PCU Oregon, a nuclear-powered Virginia class attack submarine. It moors at Naval Submarine Base New London in Groton, Connecticut.

Wallace studied nuclear engineering at Purdue, and in nearly two years in the Navy, he’s been schooled in the nuclear propulsion and ship control functions of a submarine.

Photos courtesy of the US Navy. Ensign Eric Wallace serves aboard the PCU Oregon, a nuclear-powered Virginia class attack submarine stationed in Groton, Connecticut.

“I am training to be a supervisor for reactor and propulsion systems. That is my main job right now,” Wallace, the son of Jim and Bernie Wallace of Haubstadt, told Evansville Living in a recent phone interview.

At Gibson Southern, Wallace played football and says a “tough and smart” teacher named Michael Bertram helped steer his career path.

“That’s what started me off being so interested in math and science, and led me to studying engineering and submarines,” Wallace says.

The value of hard work, he says, also came from his time employed at Dewig Meats in Haubstadt and from his parents, who are a construction worker and a nurse. Wallace’s sister, Emily, teaches at Holy Cross Catholic School in Fort Branch.

Wallace is excited to visit New York and especially looks forward to checking out the Statue of Liberty. He’ll be joined there by his wife, Hannah. Eric and Hannah both graduated from Gibson Southern in 2015.

“We are going to be proud to come to New York City and represent the Oregon,” Wallace says. “We are excited to experience the city.”

He reflected on how far he’s traveled since graduating from Gibson Southern almost a decade ago.

“I’ve gone from cornfields all the way to New York City. It’s a big change,” he says.

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