A Levelland, Texas native and 2012 Levelland High School graduate is serving in the U.S. Navy aboard the guided missile destroyer, USS Stethem.
Fireman Juan Valencial Olivas is a gas turbine systems technician aboard the forward-deployed Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer operating out of Yokosuka, Japan. Stethem is one of eight destroyers forward-deployed in Yokosuka.
A Navy gas turbine systems technician is responsible for the mechanical parts of gas turbine engines aboard the ship including the propulsion system. He’s responsible for keeping the ship going, making sure motors and mechanical parts are constantly running maintanining mission readiness.
“I learned growing up in a small town to be courteous to everyone and also to be confident,” said Valencial Olivas. “Being yourself helps a lot here in the Navy.”
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 U.S. has historic and enduring interests in this part of the world.
“Our alliance is rooted in shared interests and shared values,” said Adm. Harry Harris, Commander, U.S. Pacific Command. “It’s not hyperbole to say that the entire world has benefited from the U.S.-Japan alliance. While our alliance helped stabilize the region after the Second World War, it also enabled the Japanese people to bring about an era of unprecedented economic growth. And for the last six decades, our Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines and Coast Guardsmen have worked side by side with the Japan Self Defense Force to protect and advance peace and freedom.”
Approximately 300 men and women serve aboard the ship. Their jobs are highly specialized and keep each part of the ship running smoothly, according to Navy officials. They do everything from maintaining gas turbine engines and operating the highly sophisticated Aegis weapons system to driving the ship and operating small boats.
Forward-deployed sailors are crucial to the success of the global Navy mission and earn high praise from their leaders.
“I love everyting about Japan, the culutre, people and scenery. There is a lot to experience here. I really like the weather here, it’s not 105 degrees like in west Texas,” said Valencial Olivas. “I’m really proud of my job. I like working with my hands, that’s how I learn. The skills I’m learning in the Navy are pretty cool.”
Sailors serving abroad in Japan are highly motivated and quickly adapt to changing conditions, explained Navy officials.
“Serving in the Navy gives me a sense of pride,” added Valencial Olivas. “I’m glad to be part of something bigger than myself.”
With the ability to conduct anti-air warfare, anti-submarine warfare and anti-surface warfare, destroyers are capable of sustained maritime operations supporting forward naval presence, maritime security, sea control, deterrence of aggressive actions on U.S. partners around the globe, as well as humanitarian assistance. Fast, maneuverable, and technically advanced, destroyers provide credible combat power, at and from the sea.
(Courtesy: US Navy Office of Community Outreach)