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After spending a short amount of time with Lt. Cmdr. Joshua Turner, it is obvious this naval officer places country – as well as his shipmates and family – always before himself.
Many of his loved ones and those who work alongside him at the Navy base in Poland and at previous duty stations would quickly agree with this characterization of Turner. Even to those who are only getting to know him, this trait of selflessness is apparent.
For starters, the public works officer of Naval Support Facility (NSF) Redzikowo is not one to talk about himself. Even giving it a go for this news article was not an easy task for the Navy submariner-turned-engineer.
“I have a strong sense of personal worth in the knowledge that God created me, but I’m humble about it because I did nothing to deserve it,” Turner said. “I could easily feel that my place in this world and my success is entirely my doing. My life is great because of the personality I’ve shaped in myself, the righteous decisions I’ve made, and the help I’ve given to those less fortunate. Horse manure.”
“Truth is,” said Turner, “I’m only here because God chose to put me here for a reason. I doubt it was for me to sing my own praises.”
Turner had to look to his family for help to respond to the first interview question for this news article – “What 3-5 words best describe you?” His family offered simple, yet insightful feedback into Turner’s true self.
Their response: He is compassionate, trustworthy and hardworking.
‘A Duty to Help’
There are many ways to demonstrate compassion – motivating and encouraging others around you, practicing acts of kindness and volunteering to name a few. Turner for years has volunteered his time to help neighbors and friends with vehicle or home maintenance issues, mentor schoolchildren and teens, and donate to various charity organizations.
“I just happened to be born into a family with two loving parents, food on the table every day, clothes on my back and a roof over my head,” he said. “Through no fault of their own, not everyone has this advantage. For this reason, my heart goes out to the less fortunate and I feel I have a responsibility to help.”
For some of us, it takes work and sometimes an invitation to do the aforementioned, but for Turner, showing compassion is purely natural … and without motive.
For example, since he enjoys being in the kitchen, he baked homemade cookies for the troops this past Christmas simply to remind them they are not alone. This act of kindness fostered fellowship and a sense of family among the Redzikowo team.
“I don’t want to help so I’ll feel better about my life,” Turner added. “I feel a duty to help, like it’s a normal thing that should be done.”
The definition of compassion is the ability to acknowledge and recognize others suffering, and taking the next step to do something about it. Turner has done just that. For the past 18 years, he has willingly put his life on the line, deployed to where the nation needed him, and served others while in the Navy.
“I grew up in the Navy in the submarine community. I’ve been deployed on mission, out of touch with family and never seeing the sun or breathing fresh air for months at a time,” Turner explained. “Thousands of submariners and millions of Sailors have deployed in similar conditions in support of our nation for nearly three centuries. The military demands we be more resilient than the civilians we protect, and I take great pride in the amount of spiritual punishment I can bear. It’s this shared willingness to serve our country that I’ve found keeps us going and brings us together as service members even long after our service is done.”
‘Speak the Truth’
During the 2005 film “Kingdom of Heaven,” which is about a young blacksmith who follows his estranged father on a crusade to Jerusalem, there is a scene that resonates with Turner and has stuck with him since he first watched the movie. In one of the clips, the main character recites the knight’s oath, which includes the words, “Speak the truth, always, even if it leads to your death.”
Although Sailors are not knights, Turner believes it is important for naval officers to speak the truth to those they follow and lead. Telling the truth allows one to garner trust, especially by those who put their lives in your hands and decisions, said Turner.
“One of the Navy core values is honor, and at the core of that honor, is how much power is in your word,” he explained. “Can your word make an electrician grab a damaged high voltage wire without hesitation if you say power has been secured? Will a weapon system remain unpowered while someone else goes to check? I have always wanted people to know that what I say is the truth.”
‘Better than Yesterday’
Part of Turner’s truth is that the Navy was not his first calling. He joined the Navy because he was a “struggling college student” in debt with limited financial resources and a pending wedding. It may have been that struggling student who signed on the dotted line, but through hard work, Turner served in the Navy’s elite silent force and eventually became one of the top engineers in the Navy’s civil engineer corps.
His life motto: “Striving to be better than I was yesterday.”
“A person should never compare themselves to someone else,” Turner said. “The only person you should ever compare yourself to is you yesterday.”
Although Turner would prefer not to mention all his accomplishments as he has strived to do better throughout his career, we are going to ignore his wish and brag about a few of his milestones:
“I pride myself on being the engineer of the base – the technical expert, the funding guru, that officer on base who knows where every pipe and conduit goes,” Turner said. “The Scotty of the Enterprise that gets things done and tells the captain, ‘She'll launch on time. And she'll be ready.’”
In addition to being Scotty of the Poland installation, which was commissioned last year as Commander, Navy Installations Command’s newest Navy base, Turner is all about his family.
Officer and a Family
There is a saying, “Behind every successful man, there is a strong woman,” and that is certainly true about Turner’s wife, who put a career in nuclear engineering on hold to guide and care for their growing family.
“She is the love of my life, and she has blessed me with three amazing children,” he said.
Since NSF Redzikowo is a one-year tour, Turner and other Sailors with spouses are assigned to the base as geobachelors. As a result, Turner’s family remains back at their hometown in Texas, while he serves the nation more than 5,500 miles away.
Navy families play an integral part of the Navy team and a vital contributor to mission success. By keeping the homefront moving along, Navy families embrace their roles and responsibilities and serve alongside their Sailors. They too willingly make sacrifices, maybe even more than what is easily noticed.
“It’s not just the absence of a spouse or parent, since there’s unfortunately many single parent families out there these days. It’s the fact that there is a spouse or parent that has chosen to put themselves in harm’s way for the greater good, and they can’t be with you right now,” Turner explained. “They can’t be there to show a boy how to be a responsible man and care for and protect those around him. Can’t be there to talk to a girl who’s becoming a woman and explain to her all that comes with that and instill in her a strength that she’ll need when she meets a man that never learned or refuses to act like one. All of that falls on the parent at home and that is a huge responsibility. Throw the daily grind into it, and there’s only one person available to help with homework, drive kids to dance, soccer, and rock climbing, schedule piano, violin, viola, drum, and voice lessons, buy groceries, track house and vehicle maintenance, clean the house, do laundry … too many things to list.”
Turner and his wife Vaiva have been married for 18 years and going strong.
Turner recently found out of his selection for promotion to commander. He also received orders to return to San Diego to be the maintenance & operations officer of Naval Base Point Loma, Naval Base San Diego, Naval Air Station North Island and Marine Corps Air Station Miramar. It is encouraging to see leaders like Turner – ones who believe that “with great power comes great responsibility” – move up the ranks and take on challenging assignments.
When that day finally comes for Turner to hang up his cover and put on a ball cap, he can look back at his years of service in the Navy knowing he did indeed “leave a place in better shape than when you found it.”
“I’ve seen veterans wearing ball caps from past commands give each other a nod as they pass each other in an aisle at Walmart,” Turner said. “It fills me with pride and keeps me going knowing that they’ve passed the watch to me, and one day, I will too.”
To learn more about NSF Redzikowo, visit https://www.cnic.navy.mil/regions/cnreurafcent/installations/nsf_redzikowo.html or follow the base on Facebook @NSFRedzikowo.
MCC(SW/AW/IW) Brian Morales
Public Affairs Supervisor
Headquarters MC Lead
Commander, Navy Installations Command
Subject specific information for the media
Events or announcements of note for the media
Official Navy statements
Given by Navy leadership
HASC, SASC and Congressional testimony
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