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Focus on Service

A Sailor's Journey Home:

USS America kicks off Los Angeles Fleet Week 2016

Not a wrinkle could be seen on Airman Monique Rowland's dress white uniform as she stood on the flight deck of the amphibious assault ship USS America (LHA 6).

Standing at parade rest, side by side with her shipmates, she found herself staring at the Vincent Thomas Bridge as the ship prepared to moor in a neighborhood called San Pedro, located in Los Angeles. America's arrival marked the start of Los Angeles Fleet Week (LAFW) 2016. For some Sailors around her, it is a chance to explore a new city and experience new things.

However, for Rowland, the "City of Angels" is home.

"My first reaction of course was thinking of family and a free trip home," Rowland recalls. "My family knows that I am in the Navy they don't know what I do because it is kind of hard to explain without the ship."
Three Photo collage of USS America arriving in LA for Fleet Week.

Rowland joined the Navy a little over a year ago, she saw it as way to help her go to college.

I knew I would have to pay out of pocket to go to school, so I decided to join the Navy and make a way for myself." -Airman Monique Rowland

Joining the military usually means being separated from family but in this case, LAFW 2016 brought her back, something both her and her mother are happy about.

"When I left for boot camp, my mother described it as a bittersweet moment because I am the baby of the family and the only girl," said Rowland, who is stationed in San Diego. "She felt a little depressed during the whole boot camp process and I said 'you weren't the only one'. She is happy that we are coming here because I will be at work and still be able to show her around the ship."
Three photo collage LA Fleet Week (L-R) Navy Band performance; diver at an aquarium; Sailors running in bridge run.

Rowland plans to show her family around the ship on her duty day and explain to them more about what she does. She is looking forward to being able to do several things while in L.A., like eating a home-cooked meal.

"I'm just glad to be home," said Rowland. "I can have dinner at home again. I also plan on doing some community relations (COMRELS) projects, go out to eat, enjoy time with my family and show everyone else what L.A. is all about.

One thing she assures her fellow Sailors is that the city will welcome them and show them hospitality.

"In San Pedro, I expect [residents] to react just like how anyone else would react seeing a Sailor in their dress whites; meaning with respect," said Rowland. "I am highly certain that they'll walk up to you and thank you for your service. They might even want to take a picture with you."