A Highland native and 2016 Highland High School graduate is serving in the U.S. Navy aboard the guided missile destroyer, USS Curtis Wilbur.
Seaman Alexa Ruskus works in the deck department aboard the forward-deployed Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer operating out of Yokosuka, Japan. Curtis Wilbur is one of eight destroyers forward-deployed in Yokosuka.
A sailor in the deck department maintains and preserves the exterior surfaces of the ship, handles deck machinery and equipment, handles mooring lines, handles cargo, operates small boats, and takes part in various evolutions such as search and rescue and underway replenishment.
“My parents taught me that if you work hard enough you can achieve anything which has helped me in the Navy,” said Ruskus.
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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 of 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.
“Being stationed here is tough because it is so different from my hometown but once you live here for a while it becomes a very rewarding experience,” said Ruskus. “Just joining the Navy is a huge accomplishment for me.”
Sailors serving abroad in Japan are highly motivated and quickly adapt to changing conditions, explained Navy officials.
“I am proud to serve in the Navy because I am part of something bigger and I am able to protect friends and family back home,” added Ruskus.
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.