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GH native serves aboard Navy warship in Japan

By USN Communication Specialist 1st Class Tim Miller • Sep 15, 2017 at 3:00 PM

YOKOSUKA, Japan — A 2012 Grand Haven High School graduate is currently serving in the U.S. Navy aboard the USS Curtis Wilbur, now deployed in the Pacific.

Petty Officer 3rd Class Julianna Pedroza is a boatswain’s mate aboard the Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer operating out of Yokosuka, Japan. Curtis Wilbur is one of eight destroyers forward-deployed in Yokosuka.

As a Navy boatswain’s mate, Pedroza is responsible for training and supervising junior sailors in activities relating to deck and boat seamanship and overseeing maintenance of the ship's external structure and deck equipment.

“Growing up, I learned to make the most out of my time," she said. "Back home, it snows a lot and winter sometimes lasts for six months. Making the most out of the summer months has taught me to make the most of the time in port. Being forward-deployed in Japan, you are away for long periods of time.”

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 keen interests in this part of the world.

"Our alliance is rooted in shared interests and shared values," said Adm. Harry Harris, commander of the U.S. Pacific Command. "It's not hyperbole to say that the entire world has benefited from the U.S.-Japan alliance.”

Approximately 300 men and women serve aboard the Curtis Wilbur. 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.

“Japan is a very exciting country,” Pedroza said. “Not many people I know back home have had the opportunity to see and experience what I do every day. Knowing that the entire ship depends on the work I do topside gives me a sense of satisfaction. I’m proud of the leadership skills I'm learning every day. It makes an impact on me personally and professionally.”

Sailors serving abroad in Japan are highly motivated and quickly adapt to changing conditions, Navy officials say.

“I’m proud to serve in America's Navy and being part of something bigger than myself," Pedroza said. "I appreciate the experiences I’ve had in the Navy so far and can’t wait for the future.”

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