Petty Officer 1st Class Katelyn Gibson, a native of Topsham, Maine, serves the U.S. Navy assigned to Strike Fighter Squadron 106 in support of the F/A-18 Super Hornet.
Gibson joined the Navy eight years ago. Today, Gibson serves as an aviation ordnanceman.
Navy aircraft carriers are designed for a 50-year service life. When the air wing is embarked, the ship carries more than 70 attack fighter jets, helicopters and other aircraft, all of which take off from and land aboard the carrier at sea. With more than 5,000 sailors serving aboard, the aircraft carrier is a self-contained mobile airport.
Aircraft carriers are often the first response to a global crisis because of their ability to operate freely in international waters anywhere on the world’s oceans.
Since USS Langley's commissioning 100 years ago, the nation's aircraft carriers and embarked carrier air wings have projected power, sustained sea control, bolstered deterrence, provided humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, and maintained enduring commitments worldwide.
“I grew up on Naval Air Station Brunswick,” said Gibson. “My dad was in the Navy for 22 years and my mom was in the Navy reserves for nine years. I tried college but didn't really know what I wanted to do yet, so my dad suggested that I join the Navy.”
Today, Gibson relies upon skills and values similar to those found in Topsham to succeed in the military.
“When I was a kid, I would sometimes go to work with my mom and be around people in the Navy,” said Gibson. “They always seemed to have really exciting jobs. I saw that and realized I wanted to grow up and do something that was bigger than myself.”
These lessons have helped Gibson while serving with the Navy.
The Super Hornet is one of the most advanced aircraft in the world, according to Navy officials. The aircraft take off from and land on Navy aircraft carriers at sea and are also capable of conducting air-to-air combat as well as striking targets on land.
"The aircraft carrier is our U.S. Navy's centerpiece, our flagship, and a constant reminder to the rest of the world of our enduring maritime presence and influence," said Rear Adm. James P. Downey, USN, program executive officer (PEO) aircraft carriers. "These ships touch every part of our Navy's mission to project power, ensure sea control, and deter our adversaries."
Serving in the Navy means Gibson is part of a world that is taking on new importance in America’s focus on strengthening alliances, modernizing capabilities, increasing capacities and maintaining military readiness in support of the National Defense Strategy.
“The Navy has a lot of resources that people don’t really think or know about,” said Gibson. “I think it's important that we’re there in defense of the trade routes, ensuring freedom of the seas and showing America’s presence.”
With more than 90% of all trade traveling by sea, and 95% of the world’s international phone and internet traffic carried through fiber optic cables lying on the ocean floor, Navy officials continue to emphasize the importance of accelerating America’s advantage at sea.
“Maintaining the world’s best Navy is an investment in the security and prosperity of the United States, as well as the stability of our world,” said Adm. Mike Gilday, chief of Naval Operations. “The U.S. Navy — forward deployed and integrated with all elements of national power — deters conflict, strengthens our alliances and partnerships, and guarantees free and open access to the world’s oceans. As the United States responds to the security environment through integrated deterrence, our Navy must continue to deploy forward and campaign with a ready, capable, combat-credible fleet.”
Gibson and the sailors they serve with have many opportunities to achieve accomplishments during their military service.
“What makes me proud is teaching junior sailors their job and seeing their growth and success come out of it,” said Gibson. “In my last work center, I had 13 brand new sailors. I got to see them learn and slowly start doing tasks without help; it was so rewarding.”
As Gibson and other sailors continue to train and perform missions, they take pride in serving their country in the United States Navy.
“I’m proud that I serve,” added Gibson. “I’m proud of the person I am today and knowing how much I’ve grown from where I started.”
Growing up in Topsham (Maine), Gibson attended Mount Ararat High School and graduated in 2013.
“I would like to shout out to my mother who just retired after 40 years of civil service,” said Gibson. “She’s awesome.”