ABOARD USS ABRAHAM LINCOLN, At Sea (NNS) -- The melting pot -- America is known for this because it is a mixture of cultures and ethnicities from every country and continent on Earth.
America is home for millions who are either descendents from immigrants around the world, or in many cases, immigrants who just recently arrived, looking for a new home.
USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) is representative of the rich cultural diversity found in America. In addition to those from Asian, European, African and Latin American countries, there are also Sailors who were born in and once lived in what is now known as the former Soviet Union.
Like their shipmates from other lands, these Russian-American Sailors are an integral part of the Abe team.
One such Sailor, 23-year-old Aviation Machinist Mate 3rd Class Mikhail Vasilevsky, a Moscow native, was only about six months old when his parents left Russia for America.
Vasilevsky, a plane captain for the "Cougars" of VAQ-139 based out of Whidbey Island, Wash., said their decision to go to the United States was difficult, yet the benefit of living in the "land of the free, home of the brave" outweighed their desire to live in the Jewish homeland.
"Instead of going to Israel, we flew to Italy. My mom told me stories of how hard it was because they didn't have much -- they would sell their personal items just to get food and diapers," said Vasilevsky.
"The majority of my family lives in the United States. I'm the last one of my generation to be born in Russia. My sister was born in the States. She will be 19 in July," said Vasilevsky.
His parents wanted Mikhail to have a better future without the mandatory military service required in Russia and Israel. As fate would have it, 20 years later Mikhail joined the U.S. Navy.
"I was going to join the Marine Corps when I was 17, but my parents wouldn't let me. Both of my grandfathers were in the Russian Army during World War II. One fought at the front lines. My other grandfather worked in intelligence. He also engineered certain parts for aircraft," he said.
Vasilevsky is anxiously waiting to find out if he will get selected for Cryptologic Technician 'A' school.
"When I get out of the Navy I want to work in the intelligence field with the FBI, CIA or maybe NSA. You can't get that training anywhere else. I'd like to get my degree in criminal justice and then apply for an intelligence job," he added.
Another Sailor from the former Soviet Union, Airman Anton Moyseyenko, of Karaganda, Kazakhstan, a plane captain who works with the F/A-18E Super Hornet squadron, VFA-115 "Eagles," knows what it's like to live a life very different from that which he is living today.
Moyseyenko came to the United States when he was 18 years old. Not terribly interested in school at the time, and looking for something to do, he stumbled onto an idea while walking down a New York City street.
"Over there [in Kazakhstan] it's mandatory to join the military and people don't get paid for it. Here you get paid and get to travel and get college benefits. I really didn't know what to do with my life and I didn't feel like studying.
"I saw a Sailor walking down the street in New York. The same day I went to a Navy recruiter and the next week I was gone [to boot camp]," said Moyseyenko.
Like Vasilevsky, Moyseyenko's parents wanted their children to have a better life. His 23-year-old sister attends college in Brooklyn.
As for her younger brother, he plans on furthering his education with PACE courses and plans to go to college after his stint in the Navy.
Drawing yet another parallel to Vasilevsky, Moyseyenko is also considering the same educational and career path.
"I want to go to college in New York after the Navy. I want to study criminal justice and get a job with the FBI," said Moyseyenko.
His grandfathers also fought in 'the Big One.' "My grandparents were in World War II. My uncle fought in Afghanistan," Moyseyenko said. "My parents are proud of me -- I can't let them down."
As for his new "comrades" on board Abe, speaking Russian is a good way to keep in touch with his roots.
"We speak the same language but it's a little different, like if you are an American from Texas you can hear the accent," Moyseyenko added.
Another Sailor from the former Soviet Union, Aviation Structural Mechanic [Equipment] 3rd Class Nikolay Grigoryev, of the VF-31 "Tomcatters," likens his hometown of Moldavia to the lush orchards of Northern California, while his shipmate Moyseyenko hails from a drier, Texas-like climate.
According to Grigoryev, whose homeland lies between Romania and Ukraine, near the Black Sea, leaving to come to the United States at age 11 was bitter sweet. "I miss my friends from there, and my grandparents, they died in the early 90's. My Aunt, Uncle and cousins still live there," said Grigoryev.
Like many Jewish people from Russia, Grigoryev's family wanted a life without worrying about poverty, persecution, or simply the everyday difficulties that arise from the struggling economy and fractured politics.
Joining the Navy in 1999 was something Grigoryev did to improve his life, and to allow him the opportunity to get a college education while serving his new country.
"The main reason that I joined is so I could go to college. I couldn't accept the scholarships that I got because I wasn't a citizen, and I didn't want to work and go to college at the same time. I want to study computer science or graphics," said Grigoryev.
As for what the Navy has done for Grigoryev, he plans on using it to his advantage when he goes to school. It has given me discipline and to that attention to detail is important. Getting back. I'll take some college courses before I get out in one year," Grigoryev.
For more Abe news, visit the ship's custom NewsStand page at www.news.navy.mil/local/cvn72.