In the Navy Now
Through a phone conversation that spanned an ocean, U.S. Navy Mate Fireman Mark Davis, a 2008 graduate of Mills E. Godwin High, shared with the Henrico Citizen’s Caitlin Davis (no relation) a glimpse into what his daily life aboard the USS Harry S. Truman is like.
“The Navy has invested a lot in me, and I have invested a lot in the Navy,” he said.
Portions of his interview follow.
Henrico Citizen: Why did you decide to join the Navy?
Mark Davis: I have always wanted to join the military. I didn’t think that I would be very good at college. . .just my personality. I didn’t go to college because I was afraid of getting arrested or getting expelled. I was not quite as disciplined as I am now.
HC: What is it like living on a ship?
Davis: It’s kinda like a city, but it doesn’t feel like a city to me. There are 5,000 sailors, and I work at the bottom of the ship; I only see one-third of the crew. There are 182 other guys in the area where I sleep, and the bunk beds are stacked three high. If you can sleep, you do sleep. Overall it’s not too bad; sometimes space is a little small.
HC: Describe your job in the Navy.
Davis: I am usually turning wrenches most of the day. We monitor the seals and are responsible for the upkeep. Our gear is pretty well maintained. We do a good job of preventive maintenance. We have to make sure the ship doesn’t flood.
HC: What have you changed since being in the Navy?
Davis: There have been some subtle changes. I am more disciplined. I don’t get into nearly as much trouble as I used to; it’s hard to get into trouble with the Navy. If you show up on time, do your job moderately well. . .you’ll be fine.
HC: What have you learned in the Navy?
Davis: I was in the Boy Scouts while I was at Godwin. It taught me some leadership skills and how to deal with people from different backgrounds. Since being in the Navy, I learned that people from different backgrounds can still get the job done. I have also learned more leadership skills, more discipline, more control, and I have learned more about being a mechanic.
HC: So far, what has been your most memorable memory with the Navy?
Davis: I got to go out on the flight deck and watched as we went through the Strait of Gibraltar; on one side there was one continent, Europe, and on the other side there was another continent, Africa. Not many people get to see that.
HC: Is living on a ship a lonely life?
Davis: I don’t think it’s a lonely life. I had friends before I got on the ship. Sometimes it can be lonely when I hear about my friends who have gotten married and I don’t have a girlfriend. I can call and email my friends and family and keep in touch.
HC: What do you miss the most about being on land?
Davis: I miss being able to do things on my own time. I stay busy on the ship. I don’t feel trapped, and I don’t have time to miss dry land.
HC: What is something you would like to experience while in the Navy?
Davis: I would like to go inside the Arctic Circle. I want to stay in the Navy long enough to do that, but it depends upon what ship you get stationed on.
HC: What are your plans after the Navy?
Davis: I’m not sure yet. I have two years left in my current contract. I may reenlist, go to college or join the Marine Corps.
– Caitlin Davis
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