By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Daniel Schumacher
Life in the Navy can introduce you to people whom you may have otherwise never met; people who can become your best friend and feel like family; people who you can talk to about anything with; people who will be there for you when you need them the most and maybe even save your life.
Aviation Support Equipment Technician Airman Treveyon Holland, from Houston, came to the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier John C. Stennis (CVN-74) before its 2012-13 deployment. During the deployment, Holland’s introverted nature and somewhat unconventional personality made fitting in with most of his shipmates difficult.
“I’m not a shy person,” said Holland. “I just don’t have that many people who I’m close to. I see a friend as someone I can trust and share something personal that I wouldn’t tell just anybody.”
As the deployment went on, Holland made more and more friends whom he could get along with, and could turn to each other if they were having a rough time. One friend in particular became someone who he knew would be important to him long after the deployment was over.
“We hung out all the time and became very good friends,” said Holland. “We started calling each other brother and sister because we felt like we were family. She’s been the person I go to when I want to just hang out, have a good time, and we can talk about anything. It was our way of getting away from work.”
As time went on, the two became almost inseparable from one another and started talking about plans to take leave after deployment to go back to their hometowns which were less than a day’s driving distance away from each other.
Unfortunately, things did not go as planned for Holland and his friend when she suddenly had to return to Washington due to medical reasons.
“We stayed in contact through email and using the ship’s phone whenever I could,” said Holland. “She was around new people again and I think I missed talking to her just as much as she did.”
The two stayed in touch this way until Stennis finally returned to its homeport at Bremerton, Wash. Holland’s friend was unable to return to the Stennis, however, and wanting to stay in Wash. and close to her friends aboard Stennis, she chose orders to a nearby command only a few hours away.
“I tried to go and see her almost every weekend and sometimes every day,” said Holland. “We were both still very close and turned to each other for support. We were still like brother and sister.”
As time went on, the distance between each other started to feel less and less, and the two loners continued to meet new friends and make good memories.
“Life for the two of us was finally good again,” said Holland. “I don’t have that many people who I’m close to here, but with her, I could talk about anything and always have fun doing whatever we wanted to. We knew the good times weren’t going to last, but it didn’t matter. We were just living in the moment.”
True enough, the good times ended when Holland had to say goodbye to his friend as she left for deployment with her new command.
Staying in contact through email and the occasional phone call, Holland said she kept telling him how she felt alone and didn’t feel needed by anyone since she had to start over on many of her qualifications.
“She’s pretty introverted like me and wasn’t really getting along with a lot of the people on her ship,” said Holland. “Her boyfriend and I were both back here in Wash., and she wasn’t going to be able to see her family until she came back from deployment, so she felt like she was away from where she wanted to be.”
Holland said he was doing what he could to be there for her, but he was becoming more and more worried when their conversations indicated serious depression. He encouraged her to see someone for help if she was having problems and to help him plan their leave to go back home together after her deployment.
“I felt it would be good for her to try focusing more on the deployment and less about not
being home or with her friends,” said Holland.
Unfortunately, Holland didn’t see much of an improvement in her mood as time passed, and he started hearing her say things that didn’t feel right to him like, ‘I don’t want to be here anymore,’ ‘I’ve had it with this place,’ and ‘I just want to crawl under a rock and never come out.’ He asked her to try not to think like that and instead focus on the good things in her life like her friends and family who she could see again as soon as deployment was over.
“I was trying to keep her positive and focused,” said Holland. “That’s when I got another phone call from her.”
This time, Holland heard his friend say that she couldn’t take it and didn’t want to live anymore. She was thinking of ending her life.
“I was hoping she was just joking around, but I wasn’t sure,” said Holland. “Deployment can break you down and I didn’t know if she just hit her breaking point.”
Still processing everything he just heard, Holland wasn’t able to think straight. Not sure what to do, Holland called his mom for advice. She told him that it’s better to be safe than sorry, because you never know how someone really feels or how they will deal with their problems.
With sound advice, Holland didn’t waist another minute rushing to the barge quarterdeck wearing flip-flops, jeans, and a white tank top.
Clearly out of clothing regulations, Holland’s stopped by the junior officer of the deck and was stuck frantically explaining the situation. Meanwhile, Intelligence Specialist 2nd Class Brittany Dempsey, from Santa Barbra, Calif., who was working in an office by the quarterdeck, overheard Holland and decided to drop what she was doing and help him in any way she could.
“Once he explained everything to me, I felt morally compelled to help him,” said Dempsey, I didn’t know him or the Sailor he was talking about, but I knew that I could help.”
Dempsey and Holland both went to her office and started looking up the contact information for his friend’s squadron. After a few phone calls, the squadron’s shore detachment had all of the information they needed to track down Holland’s friend.
The squadron’s shore detachment thanked Dempsey and Holland for their actions today and wrote down their contact information to let them know any new information as it came to them.
“I didn’t really feel like I had time to sit there and worry,” said Holland.” I was on alert mode waiting for the next call.”
About an hour later, Holland received a call from his friend’s command, informing him that his friend has been located and is safe. The caller answered all of Holland’s questions and thanked both him and Dempsey for taking the initiative on such a serious matter.
“I felt so relieved,” said Holland. “All of our hard work just paid off, and she was okay.”
“She called me a later on that day,” said Holland. “She wasn’t angry at me at all; more upset that I called the chain of command, but she knew that I cared about her enough to go this far for her. By the end of the call, she was laughing with me telling me at jokes about how someone is always watching her now and that I have got it coming when she gets back from deployment. I knew we were still friends and nothing had changed.”
Holland says he still talks to his friend all the time, and nothing feels different between the two of them. They’re still planning on taking leave together to see their families together once she’s back from deployment, and they’re now even looking into taking a vacation cruise in the Bahamas sometime in the distant future.
On the 6th of August, both Holland’s commanding officer and the commanding officer of Holland’s friend gave a letter of thanks and their CO’s coin to Holland and Dempsey for their actions that fateful day.
“I don’t think I did anything amazing really,” said Holland. “It feels strange that I got a reward for this. It was what the right thing to do and what I was supposed to do.”
When asked if he had a parting message for anyone who knows a friend who may need help or someone who needs help themselves, Holland replied, “Don’t be afraid to be there for them. It doesn’t hurt to listen and try to put a smile on their face, and if you’re going through something, don’t think you’re alone. There are always people in your life who care about you and will be there for you let them.”