By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Robert Zahn, Navy Office of Community Outreach
YOKOSUKA, Japan – Petty Officer 1st Class Emenson Exilus, a native of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, always wanted to join the Navy. He had the opportunity ten years ago to join the military and decided it was time to join and serve his country.
Now, ten years later and half a world away, Exilus serves aboard the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan, patrolling one of the world’s busiest maritime regions as part of the leading-edge of U.S. 7th Fleet.
“Being stationed here it’s non-stop and very fast-paced,” said Exilus. “You have to really let yourself go and learn a lot. Expect the impossible to happen every day. There’s always something new and exciting going on.”
Exilus, a 1996 graduate of Stranahan High School, is a master-at-arms aboard the Yokosuka, Japan-based ship, the only forward-deployed aircraft carrier in the Navy.
“Our main job as a master-at-arms is anti-terrorism and force protection of the ship and pier, and maintaining order and discipline,” said Exilus.
Exilus credits success in the Navy to many of the lessons learned in Fort Lauderdale.
“I learned teamwork from back home that I carry with me in my Navy carrier,” said Exilus. “It’s showed me how to help my fellow sailors and help them benefit from what they learned. I learned a lot of it from growing up; it’s a lesson in and of itself. Getting up every day and being a part of the mission. Making sure that whatever you do is contributing to the mission,” said Exilus.
U.S. 7th Fleet spans more than 124 million square kilo-meters, 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. U.S. 7th Fleet’s area of operations encompasses 36 maritime countries and 50 percent of the world’s population with between 50-70 U.S. ships and submarines, 140 aircraft, and approximately 20,000 sailors.
“Everything happens here in this area of operability,” said Exilus. “Warding off our foes and working with Japan and our allies. Being her is one of the top AOR’s in the Navy so it’s a good feeling.”
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.
“The Navy is forward-deployed to provide security and strengthen relationships in a free and open Indo-Pacific. It’s not just the ships and aircraft that have shown up to prevent conflict and promote peace,” said Vice Adm. Phil Sawyer, commander, U.S. 7th Fleet. “It is and will continue to be our people who define the role our Navy plays around the world. People who’ve made a choice and have the will and strength of character to make a difference.”
Named in honor of former President Ronald Reagan, 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. Two nuclear reactors can push the ship through the water at more than 35 mph.
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 handling weapons to operating nuclear reactors. Another 2,500 men and women form the air wing responsible for flying and maintaining more than 70 aircraft aboard the ship.
Ronald Reagan, 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.
Serving in the Navy means Exilus is part of a world that is taking on new importance in America’s focus on rebuilding military readiness, strengthening alliances and reforming business practices in support of the National Defense Strategy.
A key element of the Navy the nation needs is tied to the fact that America is a maritime nation, 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.
“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.”
Though there are many ways for sailors to earn distinction in their command, community, and career, Exilus is most proud of making the rank of petty officer first class. He is also proud of receiving his master’s degree in cyber security.
“Joining the Navy, I always looked up to my first classes and to me it was always a milestone to achieve,” said Exilus. “I still remember someone waking me up in my rack and getting the news that I made first class. It was an unbelievable feeling. It’s something that people don’t know what I’m capable of so it’s a good feeling. It makes me feels good to know that I’ve accomplished my master’s degree while serving in the Navy.” said Exilus.
As a member of one of the U.S. Navy’s most relied upon assets, Exilus and other sailors know they are part of a legacy that will last beyond their lifetimes contributing to the Navy the nation needs.
“Serving in the Navy means a lot to me because I’m originally from Haiti so there’s not a lot of opportunity and I never thought a kid form Haiti can have this many opportunity,” said Exilus. “Coming to US provided me the opportunity to join the military. I owe my accomplishments to my country and the Navy. I’ll always be grateful.”