A Chandler native serves aboard a floating airport
By Patricia Rodriguez, Guest Writer
NORFOLK, Va. – Petty Officer 2nd Class Daniel Fuller, a native of Chandler, serves the United States Navy aboard one of the world’s largest warships, the United States Navy aircraft carrier USS Gerald R. Ford.
Fuller joined the Navy 17 years ago. Today, Fuller works in aircraft maintenance administration.
“When I was 20, 9/11 happened. I come from a Native American background and we feel a duty to serve our country when it’s under attack,” Fuller said. “Two of my cousins and one of my best friends joined the Marines and I went to the Navy.”
Growing up in Chandler, Fuller attended Dobson High School and graduated in 2000. Today, Fuller relies on skills and values similar to those found in Chandler to succeed in the military.
“Knowing things are bad, they’re going to change and you have to learn to adapt and overcome, that’s what I learned from my hometown,” Fuller said. “Nothing is going as planned and it’s fine.”
These lessons helped Fuller while he served in the Navy.
Aircraft carriers offer unique capabilities and survivability. They are a powerful display of the US Navy’s legacy of innovation, technological evolution and maritime dominance, Navy officials say.
The USS Gerald R. Ford represents the first major investment in aircraft carrier design since the 1960s. The ship is designed to support new technologies and a modern air wing essential to deterring and defeating close adversaries in a complex maritime environment.
Ford offers a significant increase in the rate of production of sorties, approximately three times the power generation capacity and a reduction of $4 billion in total life cycle cost per ship, compared to a class aircraft carrier Nimitz.
Once deployed, the Ford-class will serve as the centerpiece of strike group operations throughout the 21st century, supporting a multitude of evolving national strategic objectives. When the air wing embarks, the ship carries more than 70 attack fighter jets, helicopters and other aircraft, all of which take off and land from a state-of-the-art electromagnetic aircraft launch system. With nearly 5,000 sailors serving on board, Ford is a self-contained mobile airport.
Aircraft carriers are often the first response to a global crisis due to their ability to operate freely in international waters anywhere on the world’s oceans.
Carrier battle groups have the unique advantage of mobility, which makes them far more strategically advantageous than fixed bases. No other weapon system can deploy and operate with the speed, endurance, agility, and combat capability of a full-size nuclear-powered aircraft carrier.
“I couldn’t be more proud of our sailors; this crew has shown phenomenal resilience and skill during every phase of our operational development,” said Captain Paul Lanzilotta, Commanding Officer of Ford. “
Since the commissioning of the USS Langley 100 years ago, the nation’s aircraft carriers, such as Ford’s, and shipborne air wings have projected power, maintained control of the sea, enhanced deterrence, provided humanitarian aid and disaster relief, and maintained enduring commitments around the world.
Gerald R. Ford represents a generational leap in the aircraft carrier’s ability to project power globally.
“The carrier is the centerpiece of our United States Navy, our flagship, and a constant reminder to the rest of the world of our enduring maritime presence and influence,” Rear Arm said. James P. Downey, USN, Aircraft Carrier Program Executive Officer (PEO). “These ships touch every part of our navy’s mission to project power, provide control of the seas and deter our adversaries.”
Serving in the Navy means Fuller is part of a team that takes on new importance in the United States’ focus on rebuilding military readiness, strengthening alliances and reforming business practices in support national defense strategy.
“The Navy is a technical branch of the military, it’s not just combat oriented,” Fuller said. “We are capable of carrying out important missions for humanity and our planet. We touch land, sea and space.
With more than 90% of all commerce traveling by sea, and 95% of global telephone and Internet traffic carried by fiber optic cables lying on the ocean floor, Navy officials continue to emphasize that the America’s prosperity and security depend directly on a strong and ready navy.
Fuller and the Sailors with whom they serve have many opportunities to achieve accomplishments during their military service.
“My proudest moment wasn’t an award, a medal or a coin,” Fuller said. “It was an invitation to eat at the chef’s mess. During a deployment on the USS Lincoln, we had a plane that was down due to a faulty windshield wiper. It didn’t have a part number or a cage, so it was almost impossible to find the book with the diagrams to fix it.
“After hours of searching, I found the schematic book and gave it to the maintainers. plane was their only means of transportation to get better medical care. Later, the chief thanked me for my tireless efforts by inviting me to eat with them at the mess. It was great.”
As Fuller and other Sailors continue to train and fly missions, they are proud to serve their country in the United States Navy.
“Serving in the Navy is like being part of a family,” Fuller added. “It’s being able to defend civilians that we will never know. It’s to take care of the guy on your right and on your left and learn leadership so that one day we can return to civilian life and become better Americans. (Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Patricia Rodriguez is with the U.S. Navy Office of Community Outreach)