Petty Officer 1st Class Reginald Lewis, a native of Wichita Falls, Texas, wanted to join the Navy to follow in the family tradition of serving in the military.
Now, fourteen years later and half a world away, Lewis serves with Fleet Activities Yokosuka, supporting the Navy’s mission in one of the world’s busiest maritime regions as part of U.S. 7th Fleet.
“The locals are very nice and accepting of us,” said Lewis. “Japan is a beautiful country and has a lot to offer.”
Lewis, a 2004 graduate of Hirschi High School, is a master-at-arms forward-deployed to the installation in Yokosuka, Japan, 43 miles south of Tokyo.
“I provide security to all commands here on base which includes Navy personnel, their families and civilian workers,” said Lewis.
Lewis credits success in the Navy to many of the lessons learned in Wichita Falls.
“I was taught to have dignity and respect of all people regardless of race, religion, ethnicity, social background, my family taught me that,” said Lewis. “If you apply those principles you should have a good, prospering career in the Navy.”
U.S. 7th Fleet spans more than 124 million square kilometers, stretching from the International Date Line to the India/Pakistan border; and from the Kuril Islands in the North to the Antarctic in the South. U.S. 7th Fleet’s area of operations encompasses 36 maritime countries and 50 percent of the world’s population with between 50-70 U.S. ships and submarines, 140 aircraft, and approximately 20,000 sailors.
“The Navy’s influence in the region and its unique responsibility on this side of the globe is astonishing to me,” said Lewis. “It’s great to be a part of something big like that.”
With more than 50 percent of the world’s shipping tonnage and a third of the world’s crude oil passing through the region, the United States has historic and enduring interests in this part of the world. The Navy’s presence in Yokosuka is part of that long-standing commitment, explained Navy officials.
“The Navy is forward-deployed to provide security and strengthen relationships in a free and open Indo-Pacific. It’s not just the ships and aircraft that have shown up to prevent conflict and promote peace,” said Vice Adm. Phil Sawyer, commander, U.S. 7th Fleet. “It is, and will continue to be our people who define the role our Navy plays around the world. People who’ve made a choice, and have the will and strength of character to make a difference.”
Fleet Activities Yokosuka comprises 568 acres and is located at the entrance of Tokyo Bay, approximately 18 miles south of Yokohama. It is the largest overseas U.S. Naval installation in the world and is considered to be one of the most strategically important bases in the U.S. military.
Yokosuka boasts some of the largest and best of everything the Navy has to offer, according to Navy officials. More than 50 forward-deployed commands in Yokosuka support crucial operating forces, including military units from the United States Seventh Fleet, Commander Destroyer Squadron 15 and the only permanently forward-deployed aircraft carrier, USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76).
The challenge of providing extended service to the fleet overseas is met in a high operating tempo thanks to an exceptional U.S. and Japanese workforce, Navy officials explained. Yokosuka’s strategic location and support capabilities allow operating forces to be 17 days closer to locations in Asia than their counterparts based in the continental United States.
Serving in the Navy means Lewis is part of a world 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.
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