Peer into Paula’s Time in the Navy

Peer into Paulas Time in the Navy

Tommy Bruns, Reporter

Paula Ward from Mount Vernon, Illinois served in the Navy on the USS Kitty Hawk and the USS Nimitz. “I served during OIF and OEF, Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom,” Paula stated. These conflicts happened in the Middle East and lasted for around 13 years. “I had a lot of fun in the Navy and met a lot of cool people. My favorite part was going into ports. It was really cool. We had two days to hang out and do whatever, we were in port for 3 days. You’re going to have duty for one of those days. My favorite place that we went had to be a toss up between Singapore and Australia.”

She served from July 14, 2003 to July 15, 2011, and she was an Aviation Boatswain’s Mates Equipment (ABE). ABE is a dangerous job in the Navy. Their job is to launch and retrieve aircraft and to perform maintenance on the slingshot and other parts of the ship. “I originally wanted to be involved in Aviation Ordnance, which is bomb making. When I talked to the recruiter here in Mount Vernon, I was supposed to be in Aviation Ordinance. When I got to boot camp, they said that they didn’t mark me down for that job. The job I did get was still cool. I was maintenance support, so I got to spread my wings more than most.”

Recalling her favorite memory about her time served, Paula said, “We were on deployment. I don’t know where exactly, but maintenance support [staff] were the only ones up. There was an alert, so we launched two birds. Come to find out there was a Russian spy plane that entered our vicinity. We had two jets trail him and had a third waiting. ” Paula deeply enjoyed her time in the military and misses it. She loves all of the friends that she met and misses them all. “One guy, I can’t remember his name to save my life. I was in Iraq with him, and he was Italian. He had such a thick accent, he was so intriguing, he had so many stories.”

Movies don’t always depict the military correctly. “If you want to see a movie that gives you a good idea of boot camp, I would recommend Full Metal Jacket. Also watch “Carrier.” It’s like a 10 episode show, that I was actually in. It shows you what it was like being deployed on the ships.” When asked about veterans misconceptions she said, “Most veterans that have PTSD don’t go crazy. A lot of people think that we’re going to go and shoot up everything, but we’re more scared of people than you think.”