By Kayla Turnbow, Navy Office of Community Outreach
PEARL HARBOR – A Fort Lauderdale, Florida, native and 2009 Coral Springs High School graduate is serving in the U.S. Navy aboard the guided-missile destroyer, USS Halsey.
Petty Officer 2nd Class Mariluz Vega is a quartermaster aboard the guided-missile destroyer operating out of Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.
A Navy quartermaster is responsible for safely navigating the ship.
“I am the first in my family to serve in the military”,- said Vega. “I decided to join for a change of pace. This has been one of the best decisions I made because it has taught me discipline to do things right the first time.”
More than 300 sailors serve aboard the ship, and their jobs are highly specialized, requiring dedication and skill, according to Navy officials. The jobs range from maintaining engines to handling weaponry along with a multitude of other assignment that keep the ship mission-ready at all times.
Fast, maneuverable, and technically advanced, destroyers provide credible combat power, at and from the sea.
“Our sailors in Pearl Harbor are doing an excellent job at warfighting and supporting the warfighter,” said Cmdr. Hurd, chief staff officer, Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam. “Historically, Pearl Harbor is a symbolic base of sacrifice and resiliency. Today, on every Navy ship and shore facility’s flag pole, the First Navy Jack, ‘Don’t Tread on Me,’ flies reminding sailors to move forward and build on the history and legacy of this country and the U.S. Navy.”
Navy guided-missile destroyers are multi-mission ships that can operate independently or as part of a larger group of ships at sea, Navy officials explained. They are equipped with tomahawk missiles, torpedoes, guns and a phalanx close-in weapons system.
Challenging living conditions build strong fellowship among the crew. The crew is motivated, and can quickly adapt to changing conditions. It is a busy life of specialized work, watches and drills. Serving aboard a guided missile destroyer instills accountability and toughness and fosters initiative and integrity.
Vega is proud of earning a Navy Achievement Medal (NAM) for participating in preserving the ship during dry dock.
“Earning my NAM made me feel good because all my hard work paid off,” said Vega.
As a member of one of the U.S. Navy most relied-upon assets, Vega 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 takes care of your future,” added Vega. “It is a community and a lifetime thing that you will always carry with you wherever you go. You become a whole new person once you join the Navy.”