NORFOLK, VA – A Homewood, Illinois, native and 2015 Homewood-Flossmoor High School graduate is serving in the U.S. Navy aboard USS Whidbey Island, a warship which transports and launches U.S. Marines from sea to shore as part of amphibious assault operations.
Petty Officer 3rd Class Christine Hughes is a ship’s serviceman aboard the dock landing ship operating out of Little Creek, Virginia.
As a Navy ship’s serviceman, Hughes is responsible for inventory, sales and making sure that the vending machines are fully stocked for the crew.
Hughes credits success in the Navy to many of the lessons learned in Homewood.
“I learned that anything is possible as long as you’re willing to put in the work,” said Hughes.
A key element of the Navy the nation needs is tied to the fact that America is a maritime nation, according to Navy officials, and that the nation’s prosperity is tied to the ability to operate freely on the world’s oceans. More than 70 percent of the Earth’s surface is covered by water; 80 percent of the world’s population lives close to a coast; and 90 percent of all global trade by volume travels by sea.
Hughes is playing an important part in America’s focus on rebuilding military readiness, strengthening alliances and reforming business practices in support of the National Defense Strategy.
“Our priorities center on people, capabilities and processes, and will be achieved by our focus on speed, value, results and partnerships,” said Secretary of the Navy Richard V. Spencer. “Readiness, lethality and modernization are the requirements driving these priorities.”
Sailors’ jobs are highly varied aboard this ship. About 300 men and women currently make up the ship’s crew, which keeps all parts of the ship running smoothly, from handling weaponry to maintaining the engines. An additional 400 Marines can be embarked, and the ship is capable of transporting these Marines and landing them where they are needed using helicopters and landing craft, air cushion (LCAC) vehicles.
“Every day I am amazed by the men and women of Whidbey Island,” said Cmdr. Jean Marie Sullivan, USS Whidbey Island commanding officer. “Their steadfast devotion to the ship, mental toughness to overcome any challenge and complete commitment to their fellow shipmates truly inspires. Whidbey Island sailors are why we can answer the call and go where it matters, when it matters.”
Though there are many ways for sailors to earn distinction in their command, community and career, Hughes is most proud of completing a successful deployment in December of 2016 and earning all the qualifications required for her paygrade.
“I have worked hard to receive my qualifications,” said Hughes. “Obtaining these took a lot of dedication.”
Serving in the Navy is a continuing tradition of military service for Hughes, who has military ties with family members who have previously served. Hughes is honored to carry on the family tradition.
“I have three cousins in the Navy, one uncle in the Marines and another uncle in the Army,” said Hughes. “I joined the Navy because I wanted to travel and see different things that I wouldn’t be able to see back at home.”
As a member of one of the U.S. Navy’s most relied-upon assets, Hughes and other sailors know they are part of a legacy that will last beyond their lifetimes providing the Navy the nation needs.
“Serving in the Navy means that I get to go to different places and learn new things,” Hughes said. “The Navy has also helped me start my degree in business and marketing. There maybe some hard times but it can all be worthwhile.”