By Navy Office of Community Outreach Navy Office of Community Outreach Public Affairs
NORFOLK – A 2014 Loara High School graduate and Anaheim, California native is serving in the U.S. Navy aboard USS Gunston Hall.
Seaman Wesley Ong is an operations specialist aboard the Whidbey Island-class dock landing ship operating out of Norfolk, Virginia.
A Navy operations specialist is responsible for maintaining situational awareness of all surface and air contacts.
“I enjoy learning unique things that I would never have seen myself doing as a civilian,” said Ong.
Commissioned in 1989, USS Gunston Hall, is 610 feet long. The ship can travel at speed in excess of 20 nautical miles per-hour.
Gunston Hall is one of eight Whidbey Island-class dock landing ships currently in service. The ships primary purpose is to launch equipment and personnel for amphibious missions.
“I am intensely proud of the accomplishments of this crew and our maintenance team,” said Cmdr. Eric Lull, commanding officer, USS Gunston Hall. “Over the last 20 months, they have made improvements to the ship from stem to stern, and over the last few months specifically, they have brought her back to life. Thanks to their hard work, we are ready to return to sea, and bring Gunston Hall back in to the operational ranks of the fleet.”
Approximately 22 officers and 390 enlisted men and women make up the ship’s company. Their jobs are highly specialized and keep each part of the ship running smoothly. The jobs range from washing dishes and preparing meals to maintaining engines and handling weaponry.
“I haven’t been here for long and yet I’ve already observed there is a strong bond amongst the crew and people treat each other like blood family,” said Ong.
Although it is difficult for most people to imagine living on a ship, the challenging living conditions build strong fellowship among the crew. The crew is highly motivated, and quickly adapt to changing conditions. It is a busy life of specialized work, watches, and drills.
As a member of one of the U.S. Navy’s most relied upon assets, Ong and other Gunston Hall sailors know they are part of a legacy that will last beyond their lifetimes.
“Serving in the Navy to me is adventure and meeting people that you’ll treat like family,” said Ong. “You get to travel and do unique things. It is a different sort of opportunity that not everyone gets and I feel fortunate to have this ability. This is going to be a bitter sweet road, but the sweetness outweighs the hardships.”
“Why Being There Matters”
On our planet, more than 70 percent of which is covered by water, being there means having the ability to act from the sea. The Navy is uniquely positioned to be there; the world’s oceans give the Navy the power to protect America’s interests anywhere, and at any time. Your Navy protects and defends America on the world’s oceans. Navy ships, submarines, aircraft and, most importantly, tens of thousands of America’s finest young men and women are deployed around the world doing just that. They are there now. They will be there when we are sleeping tonight. They will be there every Saturday, Sunday and holiday this year. They are there around the clock, far from our shores, defending America at all times.