Green River Star -

By Stephanie Thompson
People Editor 

Service leads to world travel 


October 4, 2017

Courtesy photo

Joshua Shafe was trained on how to operate various weapons.

One Green River resident has decided to experience life on the seas for a while.

After graduating in May of 2014, Green River High School student Joshua Shafe decided to join the United States Navy.

Petty Officer, 3rd Class, Shafe started his navy career in August of 2014. His family wasn't surprised that he wanted to join a military branch and serve his country after high school, it's something others in his family have done.

"It stems from both sides of my family," Shafe said.

His grandfather was a retired Chief Warrant Officer, 2nd Class, in the United States Army, while his father retired from the army in 2009 as a Sergeant, 1st Class, and his uncle retired from the United States Air Force a Senior Master Sergeant.

"Having a military parent in general is difficult because you never really see them. If they went on deployment, they would be barely reachable," Shafe recalled. "Back then, it was through letters. Moving around a lot, you had to adapt to culture changes and after doing it for a while, you get used to it. You had to learn to be social."

Even while knowing this downside to serving, Shafe still joined.

Although his family wasn't surprised with Shafe wanting to serve, they were surprised with which branch he chose.

"My family's history was more towards the army, but after being on or near an army installation for half of my life, I wondered what the navy would be like," Shafe said. "I told my dad about the navy and he firmly believes I have joined the dark side, because he knew little about it. Now, I can say that I can explain almost everything about a ship to them and they would understand. I'm slowly turning them to the dark side."

Shafe decided to become a fire controlman because it resembled his father's job in the army, which was artillery. A fire controlman's job is the maintenance, operation and coordination of a ship's various weapon systems.

"My task specifically is the radar that directs a long range missile to its target. I use the radar to guide a missile to an intended target," he said, "Basically, if you have ever had a cat or dog and a laser pointer, it's the same concept."

Shafe is currently stationed in Yokosuka, Japan, aboard the USS Antietam. The guided-missile cruiser's responsibilities range through varying missions, but the ultimate responsibility is escorting massive aircraft carriers safely through the seas, he said.

"Being on a ship most of the time isn't as bad as most people would make it out to be," Shafe said. "I haven't been underway yet because I have only been on the ship for a few months."

When he's on the ship, Shafe is always busy, not only does he have to help maintain the ship, but his day duties.

"Everyone in the ship has more than one part to play," he said. "Just like every marine is a rifleman, every sailor is a firefighter."

"It is very cramped onboard a ship," he said. "The amount of space one crew member receives is your average daily gym locker plus 14-square feet for personal belongings."

Shafe's favorite part about the navy is the ability to travel anywhere. He enjoys exploring, and so far has had the chance to climb Old Rag Mountain in Virginia, explore the fortress at Ft. Sumter in South Carolina, and now he's discovered Daibutsu, also known as the Great Buddha, in Kamakura, Japan. Shafe has also been to Chicago.

One of the reasons Shafe joined the navy, was for its Naval Nuclear Power Program.

After this program, Shafe would like a more hands-on electronics job.

Shafe plans on obtaining a degree in electronics, management and engineering. "Ultimately, I want to be a jack of all trades with a few degrees in engineering and science," Shafe said. "Maybe even become an instructor somewhere."

Shafe decided to pursue an engineering degree because he enjoy mathematics and science.

"They can be relatively difficult topics, but I believe they have more weight to their value," he said.


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