Story by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Mike Pernick
“I love diving, and I love welding,” said Aviation Boatswain’s Mate (Equipment) Airman Wyatt Steen. Steen’s passion’s for snorkeling and scuba diving inspired him to pursue a career in underwater welding, and his time in the Navy is helping to make this dream a reality.
Growing up in a small farm town in Louisiana is where Steen discovered his passion for welding.
“Everyone [at home] knows how to do it,” he said. “My dad taught me some basic welding skills when I was really young, so it was sort of something that was passed on to me. When you’re living on a farm you tend to learn a lot of trade skills; they’re pretty much a necessity every day.”
While these skills were acquired out of necessity, Steen has learned that welding is more than just hard work.
Steen works in the air department, second division (V-2) aboard USS John C. Stennis, primarily maintaining the arresting gear wires, which are heavy-duty metal cables used to catch aircraft as they land on the ship’s flight deck.
“My job in the Navy isn’t easy, and I’ve gotten used to that,” said Steen. “I like the fact that I’m not always behind a desk or doing paperwork, because that’s not who I am.”
Being responsible for the arresting gear wires on a Navy aircraft carrier is a tough job. It entails long and tiresome hours, and being potentially covered in grease and dirt.
“Working in the gear has definitely shown me that I’m capable of bearing down when it’s time to work and get the job done,” said Steen. “We work long and hard hours, and I’ve been exposed to mechanical engineering since I’ve been here in the Navy.”
Steen appreciates the fact that this job has exposed him to new kinds of engineering and metal work.
The Navy also provides Sailors with plenty of opportunities to start or continue their education while they’re serving active duty or even after their time in service.
Steen hopes to attend an underwater welding school he found in the Seattle area.
“[It’s] one of the best in the country,” said Steen. “I’m originally from Louisiana and I love where I’m from, but the state of Washington and the Seattle area have really grown on me.”
With the Montgomery and Post 9/11 GI Bills, active-duty and veteran service members have the opportunity to pursue higher education. “I’m definitely going to take advantage of the education benefits the Navy has,” said Steen. “After high school I knew I wanted to go to college but just wasn’t sure what I wanted to study yet. Then after finding out I could have college paid for because of my time in the Navy, I knew it was the best choice for me to serve first.”
For more information on USS John C. Stennis visit http://www.stennis.navy.mil or http://www.facebook.com/stennis 74.