ATLANTIC OCEAN (Sept. 11, 2018) (NNS) -- When Command Master Chief Jorge Soto enlisted in the U.S. Navy in 1993 he joined on a whim, and had no intention of making the Navy a career. However, life circumstances happened to force him to reenlist. He was assigned to New York City’s Downtown Manhattan office, just blocks away from the World Trade Center.
Sept. 11, 2001 was a sunny day in New York and Soto was in charge of accompanying potential recruits to the Military Entrance Processing Station (MEPS) in Brooklyn by 8:45 A.M. As he drove across the George Washington Bridge to get to the city, heavy traffic made him late. As he sat in traffic listening to the radio, he had to no idea the breaking news interruption he heard would alter the course of history.
It was reported that a plane had struck the World Trade Center. As he wondered to himself, in shock, many questions raced through his mind. How could something like this happen? What’s the reason for this tragedy?
As he got to his office and in view of the damaged tower, he could see the destruction. Minutes later he remembers seeing another plane collide into the second tower and hearing the ensuing explosion.
“I remember all the potential recruits in my office and everyone asking me questions about what was going on,” said Soto. “I said to myself, ‘we are under attack,’ but I had to be calm for those in my office.”
Many civilians looked to Soto and other military members for guidance.
“It was at that moment that I realized what being in the armed forces really meant,” said Soto. “My fellow citizens were counting on us and the first responders to protect them, to assure them we would be OK. I couldn’t think about myself or my family. I was being called to serve and uphold the oath I had sworn.”
This day would serve to alter history and help define his purpose for donning the uniform. He is not serving just for himself, or his family alone, but for the rest of his fellow citizens, so that they can be safe.
Two years later, Soto was aboard the aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) as they launched some of the first strikes against Iraq. In 2007, he further demonstrated his commitment to the War on Terror by volunteering as an Individual Augmentee in Operation Iraqi Freedom. Today, he maintains his commitment to his values, that were defined on the day he witnessed the World Trade Center attacks, as the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77) Command Master Chief.
“On that day, 17 years ago in the most diverse city in the most diverse and greatest country in the world, I saw a resolve of this country that cannot be defined or described,” said Soto. “We came together. It did not matter who you were, what you believed in. We were all one, fighting a common cause. I ask today, that as we remember those lost and injured on that day, that we, as the crew of the GHWB, continue to lead the charge on that resolve and for those who count on us each and every day for the security and safety of this great country.”
GHWB, with embarked Carrier Strike Group (CSG) 10 staff, is underway in the Atlantic Ocean due to Sortie Condition Alpha, which ordered all ships to depart Hampton Roads in response to Hurricane Florence. CSG-10 is the Sortie Commander.
For more news from USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77), visit www.navy.mil/local/cvn77/.