Saturday, July 7, 2012

Making my mark on tradition

By Boatswain’s Mate 3rd Class Trenesha Clark
 I’m very family oriented. I’m pretty much doing the unthinkable right now being in the Navy. I have a little bit of family background in the military but I’m the only female, I know, in my family who was in the military.

I always thought about joining the Navy. My uncle, who was a [master-at-arms], was always kind of pushing me into it and telling me to think about it, but I wanted to see what was out there first, as far as the real world. I was on a basketball scholarship and my main focus was studying criminal justice. I had numerous jobs—two or three jobs at once, so I was pretty much everywhere and then all of a sudden I got the urge to join. I thought, why not just give it a shot? I was in [the delayed entry program] for five to six months and the next thing I knew I was in boot camp.

My mom was kind of like, are you sure? But she’s always said that I was responsible and make good decisions as far as what I want to do with my life. She was pretty confident I was going to do well. She was still a little nervous, you know, her baby girl was leaving.  I was kind of surprised though. I thought she was going to say, “Oh no. I don’t want you to go. Not the military,” but she let me go.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

A Living Legend

By Elmer Lyle Jones

I was born June 7, 1920 Ottawa County, Kansas and nearly departed this world June 6, 1942 in the deep, deep water of the Pacific Ocean after the Battle of Midway.

I was the last of four children and my mother died when I was just six years old; my oldest sister was twelve. Believe me we were dirt poor. I heard a man say they were as poor as church mice and I told him that was nothing, the church mice brought us care packages. But, my father managed to keep us together and got us through high school during the terrible depression and horrible dust storms.

After graduating high school in Minneapolis, Kansas, there was not much to look forward to in the future. The economy had picked up a little by 1939 but not much. One of my classmates told me he heard I was a pretty good tractor driver and of course, not being the bashful type, I told him I was the best. He said his dad told him if I would help them harvest the wheat I could stay and help with the plowing and reseeding the next crop. That sounded real good, but the last day of harvest the old man told me that he and his son talked it over and they guessed they could put the wheat in by themselves.

Instead, when I got to town, I went right in and signed up for the Civilian Conservation Corps. Dad was not too pleased when I told him about it. In less than a week, I was in the C.C.C. camp at Marysville, Kansas. I wish to state right here, that was one of the most hard-working organizations I was ever connected with and I really enjoyed it. One day my barracks mate was reading the local paper and looked at me and said,"Jones, the Navy recruiting officer will be here next Thursday.  Let’s go down and join.”  Now, I only weighed 110 pounds soaking wet. I had never even seen a body of water bigger than the county lake.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Searching for the Lost

By Logistics Specialist 1st Class Sean Le
I’m originally from Vietnam and my family migrated to the States when I was 12.
After I graduated high school, I decided to join the Navy.  I wanted to see the world and explore many great things abroad.  Almost 11 years later, I’m still in the Navy.
In February of 2012, I was excited to be given an opportunity to go back to Vietnam as an Individual Augmentee. They needed a Vietnamese linguist to help translate, and I guess my name came up on a list because they contacted the command and interviewed me. I passed the interview and showed them that I was suitable for this mission.
I had been back before to visit but this time it was quite different. This time I arrived as a U.S. military service member with a mission to bring someone home. Therefore, there are things you can discuss, and things you have to keep to yourself. We had a week-long training course in Pearl Harbor to learn about Vietnamese culture and customs, and the site we would be working at. We had to learn what to expect, what to look for in the ground, and what to do in each type of situation. We learned how to deal with the Vietnamese people and government, and different scenarios we might’ve encountered. We also learned about the rules and regulations that were put out such as not riding a scooter out on the street.
After training, we flew to Vietnam in a C-17 (military plane).  I wasn’t expecting a 16-hour flight with everyone lying on the floor because the seats were too small and uncomfortable.  It was very loud and cold on the plane but somehow I still managed to pass out.  Finally we arrived in Danang, Vietnam where we met our Vietnamese officials. We went to the warehouse and received our equipment, loaded them on to the trucks, and then we went to the site. The site was really far from Danang. We had to take a flight into Ho Chi Minh City and from there we got a vehicle and drove three hours outside the city to the site. The drive was extremely bumpy. Only some of the roads are paved because you’re not in the city anymore. We were heading toward the Cambodian border and it’s not very modern over there. A lot of it is countryside. It’s not built up like Ho Chi Minh City. It was really bad. Some people actually threw up in the vehicle going out there.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

An American Chief in the German Navy

by Chief Fire Controlman Bret Levinton

I’m from Lincoln City, Oregon. After high school I didn’t feel like I was ready for college and I wanted to travel; the military was an opportunity for that. When I joined in 1996, I was expecting just to do a four-year commitment.
After I was stationed on the USS John C. Stennis, I went as an Individual Augmentee to Afghanistan. I was coming up to the end of my IA when I was up for orders and saw there was an exchange billet for a Fire Controlman Chief to Germany. I didn’t know anything about it, but I talked to my detailer and was able to apply.
I couldn’t just take the orders; I had to take the DLAB (Defense Language Aptitude Battery Test) to see if I could learn the language first. Once I passed I applied for special programs and put in my application, just like you would for any special program, along with my DLAB score and got accepted. My wife and I both went to DLI (Defense Language Institute) in Monterey, Calif. to learn German.

I found out midway through school that I was going to a German frigate. After eight months of instruction at DLI, we both walked out with an Associate’s Degree in German and were on our way to Wilhelmshaven, Germany.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Machinist Mate to Assistant Reactor Officer

By Cmdr. George Floyd
 I'm the Assistant Reactor Officer. For the most part my job is a lot of administration, everything from ensuring qualifications are recorded, making sure boards are scheduled, and ensuring junior officers meet their timelines for their professional nuclear engineering examination. I also serve as the senior supervisor for the watch in the propulsion plant spaces to make sure that safety and the watch standing principles are followed.  I interact with all of the different agencies that oversee naval nuclear power to make sure they get all of the documentation that they need.  I make sure  that we are running our program according to the various instructions that govern how naval nuclear power is supposed to be run and it's well documented.

Naval nuclear power is technically demanding and technically challenging in a lot of regards. Unfortunately, what I think happens is,  a lot of young minorities shy away from the math and science fields for whatever reason; maybe they don't feel they'll do well or they're not encouraged to pursue those avenues. The sky is the limit. I would love to see a program developed that prepares our young minority students and women as well, to do well and maybe consider naval nuclear power as a profession and as a career.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

My Journey back to Ethiopia

 By Air Traffic Controller 1st Class (AW/SW) Dawit Melaku

I'm in the military. Whenever you hear the word military, you always think offensive. You think-war, battles and what not. But the military does other things, like what we did for victims of Hurricane Katrina, the tsunami in Japan and earthquake in Haiti. The military is a big, big help to countries in need.

I was originally born in Ethiopia, and my family and I were refugees. We left to Kenya and shortly after, a company sponsored us to come to America. I was six years old when my family and I moved to the South Bronx. I went to college and got my degree in business management, but after September 11, I decided I wanted to be a part of the U.S. government because they did so much for my family and me. In order to do that, I needed to have either military or police background.

So, I joined the Navy. My first command was an amphibious assault ship, after it was decommissioned, I was stationed at Fleet Area Control Surveillance Facility San Diego. There, as a 2nd class, I was a Facility-Watch Supervisor which is the highest qualification you can get, and is usually reserved for 1st Class or above. When I was up for orders, I wanted to do what was best for my career. Everyone I talked to told me to go to a carrier. I selected a carrier and it just so happened to be USS Nimitz.