Chandler native serves aboard floating airport - SanTan Sun News SanTan Sun News

Chandler native serves aboard floating airport

March 4th, 2022 development
Chandler native serves aboard floating airport

By Patricia Rodriguez, Guest Writer

NORFOLK, Va. – Petty Officer 2nd Class Daniel Fuller, a native of Chandler, serves the U.S. Navy aboard one of the world’s largest warships, the U.S. Navy aircraft carrier USS Gerald R. Ford.

Fuller joined the Navy 17 years ago. Today, Fuller serves in aviation 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 been attacked,” said Fuller. “Two of my cousins and one of my best friends joined the Marines and I went Navy.”

Growing up in Chandler, Fuller attended Dobson High School and graduated in 2000. Today, Fuller relies upon skills and values similar to those found in Chandler to succeed in the military.

“Knowing that things will go wrong, they will change and you have to learn to adapt and overcome is what I learned from my hometown,” said Fuller. “Nothing goes as planned and it’s okay.”

These lessons have helped Fuller while serving in the Navy.

Aircraft carriers provide unique capabilities and survivability. They are a powerful exhibition of the American Navy’s legacy of innovation, technological evolution, and maritime dominance, according to Navy officials.

USS Gerald R. Ford represents the first major design investment in aircraft carriers since the 1960s. The ship is engineered to support new technologies and a modern air wing essential to deterring and defeating near-peer adversaries in a complex maritime environment.

Ford delivers a significant increase in sortie generation rate, approximately three times more electrical generation capacity, and a $4 billion reduction in total life-cycle cost per ship, when compared to a Nimitz-class aircraft carrier.

Once deployed, the Ford-class will serve as the centerpiece of strike group operations through the 21st century, supporting a host of evolving national strategic objectives. 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 from a state-of-the-art Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System. With nearly 5,000 Sailors serving aboard, Ford 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.

Carrier strike groups have the unique advantage of mobility, making them far more strategically advantageous than fixed-site bases. 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.

“I could not be more proud of our sailors; this crew displayed a phenomenal amount of resiliency and proficiency during each phase of our operational development,” said Capt. Paul Lanzilotta, Ford’s commanding officer. “

Since USS Langley’s commissioning 100 years ago, the nation’s aircraft carriers, such as Ford, and embarked carrier air wings have projected power, sustained sea control, bolstered deterrence, provided humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, and maintained enduring commitments worldwide.

Gerald R. Ford represents a generational leap in the aircraft carrier’s capacity to project power on a global scale.

“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 Arm. 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 Fuller is part of a team that is taking on new importance in America’s focus on rebuilding military readiness, strengthening alliances and reforming business practices in support of the National Defense Strategy.

“The Navy is a technical branch of the military, they are not just combat oriented,” said Fuller. “We are able to carry out missions important to humanity and our planet. We touch land, sea, and space.”

With more than 90 percent of all trade traveling by sea, and 95 percent of the world’s international phone and internet traffic carried through fiber optic cables lying on the ocean floor, Navy officials continue to emphasize that the prosperity and security of the United States is directly linked to a strong and ready Navy.

Fuller and the sailors they serve with have many opportunities to achieve accomplishments during their military service.

“My proudest moment wasn’t an award, medal or coin,” said Fuller. “It was an invitation to eat in the chief’s mess. During a deployment on USS Lincoln, we had an aircraft that was down due to a malfunctioning window wiper. It didn’t have a part number or a cage, so it was almost impossible to find the book with the schematics to fix it.

“After hours of searching, I found the book of schematics and gave it to the maintainers. It wasn’t until later that I found out there was a very sick chief on board and this aircraft was their only mode of transportation to get better medical care. The chief’s later thanked me for my unrelenting efforts by inviting me to eat with them in the mess. It was great.”

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

“Serving in the Navy means being part of a family,” added Fuller. “It’s being able to defend civilians that we will never know. It’s to take care of the guy on your right and your left and learn leadership so one day we can return to civilian life and become better Americans.” (Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Patricia Rodriguez is part of the U.S. Navy Office of Community Outreach)