During Fleet Week 2015, I was able to interact with service men and women aboard the USS Wasp (LHD1), a multi-purpose assault ship that accommodates the full range of Navy and Marine Corps helicopters, conventional and new landing craft, and amphibious vehicles.
It was an informative experience where, by nature of a guided tour, I got a tiny hint of the equipment and technology used in battle and the magnitude of the sacrifice brave military personnel make for us to maintain our freedoms.
The horrors of war are numerous and the devastating effect it can have on lives, both at home and abroad, is unquestionable. Yet, thousands of people enlist each year. In spite of the risks, both veterans and those in active service say military training also teaches valuable life skills. Things like teamwork, attention to detail, self-discipline, how to function in stressful situations and leadership are some of the benefits of enrolling. Of course, persons in active service also get to travel the world!
During my tour of the ship, I spoke briefly with a navy officer and a marine about their trips abroad. We were in groups so I had to slip my questions in between the regular presentations and while my fellow tour participants were looking at the exhibits and learning about the rigors of active duty.
E6 1st Class Officer Jayme Graham is a ship serviceman who has been in the navy for 12 years. She is in charge of maintenance and materials management onboard which means she liaises with vendors and suppliers that repair the ship. As part of the navy, she’s traveled around the world to transport marines to their call of duty and has spent time in many far-flung destinations, including Australia and Malaysia. She liked Australia best.
Corporal Spader was newer to the service. He’s been a marine for just over three years and with his USS Wasp assignment, he had to quickly learn to live amongst the 900 other people onboard. State rooms for the officers are above board while everybody else lives below deck. His tours of duty have taken him to Thailand, Japan, Malaysia and the Philippines so far. With a shy smile, he told me he enjoyed Thailand best. I didn’t have enough time to find out if that was because of the tasty food, the friendly locals, the Instagram-worthy imagery or the women but at his tender age, I suspect it could be all of the above.
What do you think; would you enter military service?
Below are some images from my visit.