YOKOSUKA – A Port Orchard native and 2014 South Kitsap High School graduate is serving in the U.S. Navy aboard the guided-missile destroyer USS Curtis Wilbur.
Seaman Jennifer Mathis is a logistics specialist aboard the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer operating out of Yokosuka, Japan.
The ship routinely deploys to protect international alliances, enhance partnerships and be ready to respond if a natural disaster occurs in the region, according to a Navy statement on USS Curtis Wilbur.
Mathis’ job covers a wide swath — as a Navy logistics specialist, she orders and issues materials and cargo for the ship and its personnel as well as serve as the ship’s postal workers.
Mathis is proud to serve in the Pacific and fondly recalls memories of Port Orchard.
“No matter if you grew up in a small town, the Navy ensures you that a small person can contribute and make a difference,” Mathis said.
“I appreciate my family back home, I couldn’t do this without them.”
Moments like that make it worth serving around the world. With more than 50 percent of the world’s shipping tonnage and a third of the world’s crude oil passing through the region, the United States has historic and enduring interests in this part of the world.
The Navy’s presence in Yokosuka is part of that long-standing commitment, Navy officials said.
“Working on a ship can be stressful at times but with hard work comes a feeling of accomplishment,” Mathis said.
“I’m grateful for the experience of traveling and seeing other countries.”
Mathis is also proud of receiving a Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal for being part of a preservation team on the ship that saved the Navy $150,000. She also received a blue jacket of the year award.
While receiving awards makes her feel accomplished, she finds greater satisfaction knowing her work contributes to the overall fleet mission. The presence of Mathis and other sailors help the Navy control the sea.
Destroyers are warships that provide multi-mission offensive and defensive capabilities. The intimidating vessels are deployed globally and can operate independently or as part of carrier strike groups, surface action groups or amphibious readiness groups.
Curtis Wilbur has anti-aircraft capability armed with long-range missiles intended for air defense to counter the threat to friendly forces posed by manned aircraft, anti-ship, cruise and tactical ballistic missiles.
As a member of one of the U.S. Navy’s most relied-upon assets, Mathis and other sailors know they are part of a legacy that will last beyond their lifetimes providing the Navy the nation needs.
“I feel like the Navy makes you grow up faster, you mature and learn how to handle situations differently,” Mathis said.
“You also learn to respect and have a better understanding of other people.”
Seventh Fleet, which is celebrating its 75th year this year, spans more than 124 million square kilometers, stretching from the International Date Line to the India-Pakistan border and from the Kuril Islands in the north to the Antarctic in the south.
The fleet’s area of operation encompasses 36 maritime countries and 50 percent of the world’s population with between 50 to 70 U.S. ships and submarines, 140 aircraft and approximately 20,000 sailors in the 7th Fleet.
— This article was written by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Robert Zahn, Navy Office of Community Outreach.