Lake Jackson, Texas native serves aboard USS George H.W. Bush
By Chief Mass Communication Specialist Joshua Treadwell, Navy Office of Community Outreach
A 2008 Brazoswood High School graduate and Lake Jackson, Texas, native is serving on one of the world’s largest warships, the U.S. Navy aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush.
Petty Officer 1st Class Gregory Harris is a machinist’s mate aboard the Norfolk-based ship, a Nimitz-class nuclear-powered aircraft carrier and one of only ten operational aircraft carriers in the Navy today. Named in honor of former President George H.W. Bush, the carrier is longer than 3 football fields, at nearly 1,100 feet long. The ship is 252 feet wide and weighs more than 100,000 tons. Two nuclear reactors can push the ship through the water at more than 35 mph.
As a sailor with numerous responsibilities, Harris said he is learning about himself as a leader, sailor and a person. He added that it is an exciting time to be in the Navy, and serving aboard a ship is something he never expected to be doing just a few years ago.
“I’ve learned a lot of leadership skills on board this ship,” said Harris. “My team of young sailors amazes me everyday.”
“I fix anything on board that requires refrigerant,” Harris explained. “We have to cool off equipment that is vital to keeping the ship working properly.”
Sailors’ jobs are highly varied aboard USS George H.W. Bush. Approximately 3,200 men and women make up the ship’s company, which keeps all parts of the aircraft carrier running smoothly — this includes everything from washing dishes and preparing meals to handling weaponry and maintaining the nuclear reactors. Another 2,500 or so form the air wing, the people who actually fly and maintain the aircraft.
“I never cease to be impressed with the type and quality of work that goes on aboard this ship each day,” said Capt. Andrew J. Loiselle, the carrier’s commanding officer. “The USS George H.W. Bush team is filled with highly qualified young adults – in many cases, 19 and 20 years old – and they’re out here running a complex propulsion system safely, serving as air traffic controllers, operating sophisticated electronics, launching and recovering aircraft when we’re underway, and keeping this floating city alive and functioning. I can’t express how proud I am to be a part of this team. They performed at the highest level, day in and day out during our recent 9-month combat deployment and are continuing to do so here at home. Their professionalism, dedication and commitment to excellence are second to none.”
USS George H.W. Bush, like each of the Navy’s aircraft carriers, is designed for a 50-year service life. When the air wing is embarked, the ship carries more than 70 attack jets, helicopters and other aircraft, all of which take off from and land aboard the carrier at sea. Powerful catapults slingshot the aircraft off the bow of the ship. The planes land aboard the carrier by snagging a steel cable with an arresting hook that protrudes from the rear of the aircraft. All of this makes the George H.W. Bush a self-contained mobile airport and strike platform, and often the first response to a global crisis because of a carrier’s ability to operate freely in international waters anywhere on the world’s oceans.
As a member of one of the U.S. Navy’s most relied upon assets, Harris and other USS George H.W. Bush sailors know they are part of a legacy that will last beyond their lifetimes.
“I’m doing what I’ve wanted to do as kid, serve my country and learn critical job skills,” said Harris.
“Why Being There Matters”
On our planet, more than 70 percent of which is covered by water, being there means having the ability to act from the sea. The Navy is uniquely positioned to be there; the world’s oceans give the Navy the power to protect America’s interests anywhere, and at any time. Your Navy protects and defends America on the world’s oceans. Navy ships, submarines, aircraft and, most importantly, tens of thousands of America’s finest young men and women are deployed around the world doing just that. They are there now. They will be there when we are sleeping tonight. They will be there every Saturday, Sunday and holiday this year. They are there around the clock, far from our shores, defending America at all times.