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Local People

By Kayla Turnbow, Navy Office of Community Outreach

A Finleyville, Pennsylvania, native and 2017 Ringgold High School graduate is serving in the U.S. Navy aboard the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt.

FinleySailor
Airman Christopher Hetrick (Photo By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Jason Meyer)

Airman Christopher Hetrick is an aviation boatswain's mate (handling) aboard the carrier operating out of San Diego. As a Navy aviation boatswain's mate (handling), Hetrick is responsible for the safe handling, chalking and chaining of the aircraft on the flight deck.

Hetrick credits success in the Navy to many of the lessons learned growing up in Finleyville.

“Growing up I worked with my hands and now I get to do that every day,” said Hetrick. “I do maintenance on all different equipment on the boat.”

Named in honor of former President Theodore Roosevelt, the carrier is longer than three football fields, measuring nearly 1,100 feet. The ship, a true floating city, weighs more than 100,000 tons and has a flight deck that is 252 feet wide. 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.

“I like our deployments and being able to go to foreign countries,” said Hetrick. “It all seems worth it to see these places I would not have seen otherwise.”

Being stationed in San Diego, the principal homeport of the Pacific Fleet, means Hetrick 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.

Though there are many ways for sailors to earn distinction in their command, community and career, Hetrick is most proud of earning the Battle “E” Ribbon. “The ship received the ribbon as a whole. Each individual who was a part of the mission is able to wear that honor,” said Hetrick.

Sailors’ jobs are highly varied aboard the carrier. Approximately 3,200 men and women make up the ship's crew, 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 men and women form the air wing responsible for flying and maintaining the aircraft aboard the ship.

"Naval aviation is the ultimate team sport, and a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier cannot accomplish her mission without the professionalism and expertise of every sailor aboard," said Capt. Carlos Sardiello, commanding officer Theodore Roosevelt.

Theodore Roosevelt, 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. All of this makes the Theodore Roosevelt 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, Hetrick and other Theodore Roosevelt sailors know they are part of a legacy that will last beyond their lifetimes providing the Navy the nation needs.

"I always felt like I wanted to serve my country at some point,” added Hetrick. “I have finally fulfilled something I have wanted to do my whole life.”

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