SAN DIEGO – When Apache Junction, Ariz., native Petty Officer 3rd Class Judene Stansbery left her local Navy Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps (NJROTC) unit to join the Navy she had no idea how important her experiences would be to her “shipmates” back home, but she had a chance to find out July 16 when her unit visited USS Rushmore (LSD 47) for a tour.
Stansbery, a damage controlman aboard the 609-foot Whidbey Island class dock landing ship, was happy to welcome the unit from her hometown for the day.
“I was so excited to hear they were coming. They do ship tours every summer, and I knew that they would like to come on board,” Stansbery said.
Stansbery helped lead the tour and talked to the cadets about her experiences, offering them advice on the Navy. The cadets, many of whom still remembered her from high school, were excited to see her and felt the trip was worthwhile.
“We hade a unique opportunity because one of our former cadets is a petty officer on the ship,” said retired Senior Chief Master at Arms (SS/SW/AW) David Patti, an NJROTC science instructor for the unit. “It was a chance to see how the Navy operates and how Sailors live and what they do for a job. You can explain that in the classroom only so much; (the cadets) need to actually go out and see what its like.”
Each summer, the Apache Junction City unit schedules several days to travel to military bases for the cadets to receive training and learn more about the opportunities the Navy has to offer. This year, in addition to the ship tour, the cadets were scheduled to participate in damage control and fire fighting training.
Retired U.S. Marine Corps Major William Parker, the Apache Junction unit commander, explained the value of the tour and overall NJROTC program saying, “Its tours like this that help [the cadets] decide what service they want to go into. About 80 percent of our kids end up going into the military – either through commissioning programs or enlisting.”
Parker was grateful to have Stansbery speak with the cadets and provide them with her first-hand experiences. He also was highly impressed with her and proud of her relatively quick promotion.
“She’s been out basically a year and she’s a third class petty officer. So, she’s done pretty well for herself. That’s the type of thing we want our kids to see,” Parker said.
Sarah White, the unit’s command master chief, expressed her appreciation for the ship tour stating, “It’s the first time I’ve had a detailed tour of a ship. I thought it was really neat, and I learned some new stuff. It gives you a better understanding so that you’re not totally clueless when you join the Navy.”
Stansbery embraced the opportunity to share with the cadets how much Parker and Patti helped her with their mentorship and guidance. She also mentioned that she wouldn’t be where she was today if it hadn’t been for them.
“It was really fun and exciting showing them around and showing what I do. They’ll be able to make a better decision if they want to do anything for themselves in the future by joining the Navy,” Stansbery said.