WWW.SEAPOWERMAGAZINE.ORG SEAPOWER / FEBRUARY 2014
I’m from Edmore, Mich. I
— it wasn’t anything real serious. I
decided it was time to try something different. I joined the Navy
in 1998 to get away from home,
get some college money and do a
After boot camp at Great Lakes,
Ill., I became an undesignated deck
seaman and I really liked it. You
work a lot outside, a lot with your
hands, two things I really like to
do. I became a boatswain’s mate, a
rating I’ve stuck with ever since.
My first assignment was [the
aircraft carrier] USS Theodore
Roosevelt in Norfolk, Va., probably
my favorite tour. You’re new coming into the Navy right out of
school, it’s all fun, your first deployment. I was on there for 9/11.
So that deployment alone is just
something to remember — we
were at sea for 159 days straight.
There are not too many people
who can say that.
I went on to the [amphibious
transport dock ship] USS Nashville,
then to Navy Cargo Handing Battalion One in Williamsburg, Va., and
then a short stint on the [guided-missile destroyer] USS Mitscher.
After that, I served with Maritime
Expedition Security Squadron Six
(MSRON 6) in Portsmouth, Va.
With MSRON 6, I deployed to
Dubai for seven months as a
helmsman on port security boats. I
got to spend some time actually
in-country instead of just on liberty [from a ship deployment]. That
was nice in itself. Dubai is a beautiful, amazing city. A lot of the
technology in the city itself is just
My only shore tour was at a
Norfolk detachment of Naval
Aviation Schools Command, teaching Sailors second class swimmer
qualifications. A two-week swimming instructor school in Pensacola, Fla., made me a lot stronger
swimmer. While assigned here, I
attended college and got my degree
in funeral services. So when I
retire, I’ll be ready to start the next
chapter of my life.
So, now, assigned to the crew of
the future aircraft carrier USS
Gerald R. Ford, I’ve been a Tidewater Sailor my whole career. I
kept trying to get over to the West
Coast and, for some reason, I
always ended up staying here. It
will take me to my 20-year mark
so I’ll finish out my career here.
When I first came in, I was only
going to do my four [-year enlist-ment] and get out. I never expected to stay and do my 20. I’ve seen
a lot of the world that I never
would’ve thought about going to
Compared with my tour on
Theodore Roosevelt, working in the
Deck Division on Gerald R. Ford is
somewhat different. A lot of the
equipment we deal with is lighter,
so you won’t have the heavy lifting.
The anchor chain is lighter, the
anchor is lighter.
A lot of it is more technological,
which makes life easier. That’s a
good thing. You won’t need quite
as much manpower with this. But
the more people you have, the
more camaraderie you get, too, and
the camaraderie is what makes the
Boatswain’s mates take pride in
painting the ship, the exterior, to
make it look good so everybody
can see it. Rust from pumping
water overboard can streak the side
of the ship, and they have us come
in and make it all pretty. But you
see the rust develop because everything is working like it’s supposed
to. That’s a good thing, too.
I’m more in the supervisory
role, so now I get to teach all the
junior Sailors and have fun with
them teaching them to do
things the right way.
BOATSWAIN’S MATE 1ST CLASS
PRE-COMMISSIONING UNIT GERALD R. FORD
NEWPORT NEWS, VA.