USS HARRY S. TRUMAN, At Sea (NNS) -- Sailors from Naval Air Facility (NAF) Washington departed USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) April 30, after spending nearly two weeks underway, concluding the first iteration of a NAF Washington pilot program, Sailors to Sea.
As a shore command, many NAF Washington Sailors are first-termers who have never had the opportunity to go to sea. The Sailors to Sea Program aims to provide these Sailors and others who may not have been underway, the chance to set sail and experience life on the water. For 12 days, four Sailors in the NAF group had this opportunity.
"I think every Sailor needs to go out to sea once," said Chief Aviation Electronics Technician (AW) Dale Hicks, the ranking member of the group. "Depending on where they wind up at the end of their career, they should be out to sea even if it's just for a couple of weeks because that's part of what it means to be a Sailor."
NAF Washington is a full-time support command at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland. The command's primary duty is to provide support for Reservists in the Washington D.C., area.
"I was talking with my chief one day, and she asked me if I would be interested in coming on to a carrier," said Storekeeper 2nd Class Sherry Freeman, who worked with Truman's supply department during her two-week stay. "I said, 'Sure, I'll go and see what ship life is like.'"
Freeman, along with the rest of the NAF group, immediately took note of how different shipboard life can be compared to life working at a shore command.
"On shore, when it's time to get off, I can put the work off and come back to it the next morning," said Freeman. "On the ship, I've noticed that I can't leave until everything is completed. I work from 0700 to 2100 maybe 2200. That's a big difference."
Some Sailors had never experienced flight operations and the wide expanse of the ocean.
"I liked seeing all the flight ops and everything," said Yeoman Seaman Apprentice Craig Daleske, who worked closely with some of Truman's yeomen during his visit. "Me being a little kid and wanting to be a pilot, it's nice to be this close to the jets. It's better than seeing a sea of corn back in Iowa."
The pilot program may have provided at least one NAF Washington Sailor with an additional opportunity.
"My corpsman is thinking about going air crew. He's really interested in being a rescue swimmer," said Hicks. "He might actually find another avenue to pursue his rate.
"Everybody seems to be really enjoying the community out here," Hicks added. "Truman has been a great host to us and I'm glad we could come."
For more news from USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75), visit www.navy.mil/local/cvn75/.