SAN DIEGO — Fireman Quan Applewhite, a native of Tarboro, is one of more than 5,000 sailors serving aboard the self-contained mobile airport, USS Carl Vinson.

Equipped with a full flight deck and more than 60 aircraft including attack fighter jets and helicopters, aircraft carriers are one of the largest warships in the world.

Applewhite joined the Navy two years ago.

“I joined the Navy to take advantage of the education and other benefits,” said Applewhite. “I want to make my mom proud by bringing another Capt. Applewhite into the family. My younger brother is an Air Force captain.”

Skills and values learned in the Navy are similar to those found in Tarboro.

“I spent part of my childhood in Tarboro,” said Applewhite. “Spending time with my grandmother, I learned the importance of hard work, family and friends.”

Applewhite’s grandmother, Gloria Applewhite, still lives in Tarboro.

Aircraft carriers are the centerpiece of America’s Naval forces. For more than 100 years, they have projected power, sustained sea control, bolstered deterrence, provided humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, and maintained enduring commitments worldwide.

According to Navy officials, aircraft carriers are versatile and have unique mission capabilities that make them a more strategic asset for the Navy than fixed-site bases. They are often the first response in a global cruise because of their ability to operate freely in international waters anywhere on the world’s ocean. In addition, no other weapon system can deploy and operate forward with a full-sized, nuclear-powered aircraft carrier’s speed, endurance, agility and the combat capability of its air wing.

This year commemorates 50 years of women flying in the U.S. Navy. In 1973, the first eight women began flight school in Pensacola. One year later six of them, known as “The First Six,” earned their “Wings of Gold.” Over the past 50 years, the Navy has expanded its roles for women to lead and serve globally, and today women aviators project power from the sea in every type of Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard aircraft. According to Navy officials, our Nation and our Navy is stronger because of their service.

With 90% of global commerce traveling by sea and access to the internet relying on the security of undersea fiber optic cables, Navy officials continue to emphasize that the prosperity of the United States is directly linked to trained sailors and a strong Navy.

“Our mission remains timeless – to provide our fellow citizens with nothing less than the very best Navy: fully combat ready at all times, focused on warfighting excellence, and committed to superior leadership at every single level,” said Adm. Mike Gilday, Chief of Naval Operations. “This is our calling. And I cannot imagine a calling more worthy.”

As a member of the Navy, Applewhite is part of a world-class organization focused on maintaining maritime dominance, strengthening partnerships, increasing competitive warfighting capabilities and sustaining combat-ready forces in support of the National Defense Strategy.

“The Navy acts like a buffer between those who would want to do us harm and those we’re protecting back home,” said Applewhite.

Applewhite has many opportunities to achieve accomplishments during military service.

“I’m proud of the work we did to make sure the diesel generators were ready for operation,” said Applewhite.

As Applewhite and other sailors continue to perform missions, they take pride in serving their country in the United States Navy.

“Serving in the Navy is humbling,” added Applewhite. “This way of life requires dedication and perseverance. It’s important to have initiative and not give up, even when things get hard.”