USS CARL VINSON, At Sea (NNS) -- Since the Navy's inception during the Revolutionary War, sons have followed in their seafaring fathers' footsteps to serve their country. Rarely, though, are a father and son presented with the challenge and opportunity to work together on the same Navy ship.
Master Chief Avionics Technician (AW/NAC) Carl Bailey II, Aircraft Intermediate Maintenance Department's leading chief petty officer, and his son, Aviation Electrician's Mate Airman Carl Bailey III, are both currently deployed in the eastern Pacific aboard USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70).
The Baileys' story begins in Imperial Beach, Calif., just south of San Diego. This small town, the most southwesternly city in the continental United States, was home for the Bailey family. Master Chief Bailey, son of a Marine master gunnery sergeant, was faced with the challenge of raising his son in a single-parent home and meeting his duty as an oft-deployed Sailor.
"The Navy has always been a tremendous factor in my son's life," said the younger Bailey. "My fellow Sailors played a big role and always lent a hand when I needed them. You could say that he was partly raised by other chiefs and master chiefs, because when I was deployed, they were the ones I often depended on to look after him."
Despite the predominant role the Navy played in his youth, the elder Bailey didn't dream of becoming a Sailor when he was growing up.
"I never really considered it until I turned 18," said the young airman.
"He won't come out and say it, but I think September 11 was a turning point that made him consider his options more closely," said the elder Bailey. "He started talking about joining the Navy that same week."
Following the younger Bailey's high school graduation, he was off to Navy boot camp in Great Lakes, Ill.
Father counseled son on his Navy options. He advised him to pick a rate where he would receive training in a technical skill. Initially, Airman Bailey chose a rate different than that of his father, but he soon found himself training to do the same work as dad.
It wasn't long before the Baileys found themselves in a unique situation. The elder Bailey was working in his office aboard Carl Vinson when he got e-mail from the aviation electrician detailer. The detailer asked the elder Bailey if he was interested in getting another airman for his department and was given the name of this prospective Sailor. The seasoned master chief couldn't help but laugh.
"Initially I was in shock," he said. "I told him, 'I need another airman in my department, but you should really know that the Sailor you're talking about sending is my son!'"
"First of all, I had to talk to the powers that be on the ship, as well as in my department. I hadn't really seen this kind of situation before, and I wasn't even sure if it was allowed. I was assured that it was legal, so we went ahead with it."
Since the younger Bailey reported for duty aboard the "Gold Eagle" in October, both Baileys have faced a period of adjustment.
"I knew it would be harder for my son than it would be for me," said Master Chief Bailey.
"I really wanted to make it clear in the department that the chiefs and first class petty officers would give my son no special treatment," he said. "It really hasn't been a big issue for me, because he asks for no favors and has really become his own Sailor. It's like I told him before he got here, 'You've got to ride your own horse,'- and that is just what he's done."
Things haven't been quite as easy for the son. His friends and peers needle him by insinuating that he has it easy because his father is a master chief petty officer and is the highest-ranking enlisted Sailor in AIMD.
"Yeah, I take a little heat, but it's in good fun - no big deal," said Airman Bailey.
With one at the top of the enlisted ranks and the other Bailey just getting started in his naval career, father and son don't cross paths at work very often. The two men maintain a professional relationship on the job, but there is no mistaking their special bond.
When his Carl Vinson assignment comes to an end, the elder Bailey will return to the rescue swimmer community where he worked for more than 20 years, while the younger Bailey will continue his tour aboard Carl Vinson.
Carl Vinson is currently underway in the southern California operating area conducting flight-deck certification and training with Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 9.
For related news, visit the USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) Navy NewsStand page at www.news.navy.mil/local/cvn70.