NEWS | April 28, 2018

Reservists Go to Sea to Forward-Deployed Expeditionary Strike Group on Patrol

By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Alexandra Seeley

OKINAWA, Japan Reserve Sailors from throughout the United States joined the Wasp Expeditionary Strike Group (ESG) patrol, filling an assortment of jobs that helped the ESG perform its operations.

Reserve Sailors—many of whom have day jobs with U.S. corporations or local business—filled billets within the Wasp ESG that ranged from electrician billets to assisting unit-level Deck Departments with well deck operations.

The Reservists played a critical role aboard the core amphibious ships of the ESG in ensuring successful integration with the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) and ultimately led to  MEU certification at the culmination of the patrol.

Sailors served on the amphibious assault ship USS Wasp (LHD 1), amphibious dock landing ship USS Ashland (LSD 48), and amphibious transport dock ship USS Green Bay (LPD 20).

On Ashland, where Reserve forces had served in important billets during the last patrol, their presence was much appreciated.

“They are truly an asset to the team,” said Cmdr. Steven H. Wasson, commanding officer of the Ashland. “It’s nice to have them onboard, and our team is more than willing to provide the support they need to complete the mission professionally and successfully.”

Numerous Reservists leave civilian day jobs to become a value-add to commands overseas.

Boatswain’s Mate 1st Class Brett Wells from Seattle, Wash., was assigned to Ashland to support Deck department operations but works as an Airline security manager in his civilian career. After being sent overseas, he was able to see firsthand the culture of Japan as well as gain more experience at sea.

“I have never been underway before. This will be the longest time I’ve been out to sea in my entire naval career and it gives me a fresh perspective on being out here in Japan,” said Wells. “My time on the Ashland has been great so far, I’m glad I came and now I can tell my children of all the cool and interesting things I experienced out here.”

Other Reservists spend time on ships to get the training necessary to support future missions. For Electronics Technician 2nd Class Matthew Chonka, from San Marcos, Texas, another member of the Ashland Reserve contingent, this is his first ship as well as the first deployment that he has been a part of.

 “Every day I’m pushing to learn as much as I can while we are out at sea.” said Chonka, “I volunteered to come onboard the Ashland for this deployment, and I love it!”

While some reservists have never served on active duty, Yeoman 1st Class Lisette Leguizamo is a previous active duty Sailor who transitioned into the Navy Reserves and is now temporarily serving with the administrative department aboard USS Wasp.

“I am very in awe of my peers for the dedication they put into the mission and their dedication to service. They sacrifice so much being here and it’s really great to be a part of that,” said Leguizamo.,“It’s been a truly exciting and proud time in my life to be a part of the this historical deployment on the Wasp!”