Detroit Native Serves Aboard a U.S. Navy Floating Airport at Sea

Petty Officer 3rd Class Aja Webber (Photo By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Heidi Cheek)

By Kayla Turnbow, Navy Office of Community Outreach

SAN DIEGO – A Detroit native and 2010 Lamar High School in Arlington, Texas, graduate is serving in the U.S. Navy aboard the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt, which recently returned from a 7-month deployment.

Petty Officer 3rd Class Aja Webber is an aviation boatswain’s mate (handling) aboard the carrier operating out of San Diego. A Navy aviation boatswain’s mate (handling) is responsible for moving and directing aircraft safely aboard the carrier.

Webber credits success in the Navy to many of the lessons learned growing up in Detroit.

“I brought a sense of pride in serving my country into the Navy with me,” said Webber.

The crew spent the deployment supporting Operations Inherent Resolve and Freedom’s Sentinel, as well as maritime security cooperation efforts in the Arabian Gulf and Pacific Ocean.

The ship transited more than 56,000 miles, and made five port calls in four different countries, to include the United Arab Emirates, the Kingdom of Bahrain, the Republic of Singapore, and the Republic of the Philippines, as well as port calls in Hawaii and Guam.

“My favorite experince on deployment was seeing the differnt countries,” said Webber. “I really liked Dubai. Making it through something that you thought you could never accomplish was rewarding.”

Named in honor of former President Theodore Roosevelt, the carrier is longer than three football fields, measuring nearly 1,100 feet. The ship, a true floating city, weighs more than 100,000 tons and has a flight deck that is 252 feet wide.

Powerful catapults slingshot the aircraft off the bow of the ship. The planes land aboard the carrier by snagging a steel cable with an arresting hook that protrudes from the rear of the aircraft.

As a sailor with numerous responsibilities, Webber learns about life at sea serving in the Navy and the importance of taking personal responsibility while leading others.

Webber has military ties with family members who have previously served and is honored to carry on the family tradition.

“My grandfather was in the Marines and my dad is an Army veteran,” said Webber. “My grandfather really influenced me to join. Growing up and seeing pictures from his time in the service made me want to do the same.”

Though there are many ways for a sailor to earn distinction in their command, community, and career, Webber is most proud of earning a Flag Letter of Commendation for running training in the aviation department.

Sailors’ jobs are highly varied aboard the carrier. Approximately 3,200 men and women make up the ship’s crew, which keeps all parts of the aircraft carrier running smoothly — this includes everything from washing dishes and preparing meals to handling weaponry and maintaining the nuclear reactors. Another 2,500 men and women form the air wing responsible for flying and maintaining the aircraft aboard the ship.

“What Rough Riders have accomplished during this deployment was truly inspirational,” said Capt. Carlos Sardiello, commanding officer Theodore Roosevelt. “Earning the privilege to be called the best one day at a time; every sailor and Marine made what is very difficult look easy. We are immensely proud of the hard work and dedication that was exhibited as well as the sacrifices of the families.”

Theodore Roosevelt, like each of the Navy’s aircraft carriers, is designed for a 50-year service life. When the air wing is embarked, the ship carries more than 70 attack jets, helicopters and other aircraft, all of which take off from and land aboard the carrier at sea.

All of this makes the Theodore Roosevelt a self-contained mobile airport and strike platform, and often the first response to a global crisis because of a carrier’s ability to operate freely in international waters anywhere on the world’s oceans.

As a member of one of the U.S. Navy’s most relied upon assets, Webber and other Theodore Roosevelt sailors know they are part of a legacy that will last beyond their lifetimes providing the Navy the nation needs.

“Serving in the Navy means serving something higher than myself,” added Webber. “It is a sacrifice. I wanted to give back to everyone around me. Serving is a selfless act I wanted to accomplish.”


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