Thousands of military personnel from the U.S. Coast Guard, Navy and Marines are taking a bite of the Big Apple during the 27th annual Fleet Week. In exchange, civilians had the opportunity to explore the world of America’s military sea services by touring military vessels and attending air shows and other demonstrations over the Memorial Day weekend.
Kicking off last week, Fleet Week activities wrapped up this week. Several vessels, including the USS Stout and USS San Antonio, participated in the Parade of Ships rolling into the city, docking at piers in Manhattan and Staten Island.
One of those ships was the USS Barry, which was docked in Staten Island. The vessel, a guided-missile destroyer, carries a long history of life on the high seas and various missions.
Torrence Kelly is the USS Barry’s senior enlisted leader and has been in the Navy for 24 years. There are 240 enlisted sailors on board, along with 50 officers and chief petty officers.
In an interview with the AmNews aboard the USS Barry, Kelly discussed his journey through the Navy and his work on the ship.
“I give my advice to the commanding officer and to the executive officer on the ship,” he said. “I didn’t originally have a plan to join the Navy. I did want to serve my country. When I sat down with the Navy recruiter, they were the most appealing to me.”
Kelly is originally from Charleston, S.C., and had has travel to China, Japan, Indonesia, Australia, Thailand and the Middle East.
Chief Petty Officer Melissa Holmes is the chief personnel specialist on the USS Barry and deals with all pay and other personnel matters and has been in the Navy for 17 years. She said that she joined for the free college education and wants to go law school.
“I’ve been able to travel and meet people from different backgrounds,” she said. “The longest I have been deployed is eight months and my family is in Hawaii, so we Skype a lot.”
Marlon Shackleford is from Dayton, Ohio, and has been in the Navy for more than two years. He joined the military because he has several family members who joined and had positive experiences.
“I’ve been to Israel, Italy, Turkey and Jerusalem,” he said. “Me being young, I don’t have my own family yet, but when you are here, you miss your family. The Navy is a different world. You sacrifice time, sleep, but at the end of the day, it’s worth it.”