Texas Border Business
By Alvin Plexico, Navy Office of Community Outreach
NORFOLK, Virginia – Petty Officer 3rd Class Jose Then, a native of McAllen, Texas, is one of more than 5,000 sailors serving aboard the self-contained mobile airport, USS Dwight D. Eisenhower.
Then graduated in 2013 from McAllen High School.
The skills and values needed to succeed in the Navy are similar to those found in McAllen.
“Growing up in McAllen, I learned the importance of working hard,” said Then. “I also learned not to complain and to help others as much as you can.”
Then joined the Navy three years ago. Today, Then serves as an air traffic controller.
“I have two cousins who served in the Navy,” said Then. “I’ve always wanted to join the military, so their service inspired me to join the Navy. Also, I wanted to be an air traffic controller and now I get to do that in the Navy.”
Aircraft carriers are the centerpiece of America’s Naval forces. For more than 100 years, they have projected power, sustained sea control, bolstered deterrence, provided humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, and maintained enduring commitments worldwide.
According to Navy officials, aircraft carriers are versatile and have unique mission capabilities that make them a more strategic asset for the Navy than fixed-site bases. They are often the first response in a global crisis because of their ability to operate freely in international waters anywhere in the world. In addition, no other weapon system can deploy and operate forward with a full-sized, nuclear-powered aircraft carrier’s speed, endurance, agility and the combat capability of its air wing.
“Mighty IKE” is a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier named for Dwight D. Eisenhower, one of only four five-star U.S. Army generals and a hero of World War II who would later serve as the 34th president of the United States. Homeported in Norfolk, Virginia, the carrier is longer than three football fields at 1,092 feet. The ship is 252 feet wide and weighs more than 100,000 tons.
This year commemorates 50 years of women flying in the U.S. Navy. In 1973, the first eight women began flight school in Pensacola, Florida. Six of them, known as “The First Six,” earned their “Wings of Gold” one year later. Over the past 50 years, the Navy has expanded its roles for women to lead and serve globally, and today women aviators project power from the sea in every type of Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard aircraft. According to Navy officials, our nation and our Navy are stronger because of their service.
Serving in the Navy means Then is part of a team that is taking on new importance in America’s focus on rebuilding military readiness, strengthening alliances and reforming business practices in support of the National Defense Strategy.
“We need a strong Navy because our planet is mostly water,” said Then. “Our nation is a global leader and our Navy provides that global presence through maritime security.”
With 90% of global commerce traveling by sea and access to the internet relying on the security of undersea fiber optic cables, Navy officials continue to emphasize that the prosperity of the United States is directly linked to trained sailors and a strong Navy.
Then has many opportunities to achieve accomplishments during military service.
“I’m proud to be named the Air Traffic Controller of the Month in April 2023,” said Then. “It meant a lot because, in just a little time doing my job, I was able to accomplish something I was proud of.”
As Then and other sailors continue to train and perform missions, they take pride in serving their country in the U.S. Navy.
“Serving in the Navy is a great opportunity to serve the country,” said Then. “The people of our country are what drives me forward and inspires me to keep doing what I do.”
Then is grateful to others for helping make a Navy career possible.
“I’d like to thank my mom, Norma, my sister, Diana, and my brother-in-law, Matthew Amaro,” added Then. “I love them very much. I wouldn’t be here without them.”