ATLANTIC OCEAN -- From sailing the high seas to rocketing through the air, sailors from Central Virginia are making waves in the United States Navy.
Richmond native Lt. Ross Hertzler is living the high life as a U.S. Navy pilot.
"It is a thrill to be able to fly this," Hertzler said about his MH-60 Seahawk. "It's humbling to be here and serve at the same time and be close to the neighborhood essentially while I’m here."
Hertzler is one of roughly 400,000 active duty sailors and reservists serving in the air, on sea and land.
"I know plenty of families come from military backgrounds, so for all of us to follow in their footsteps it is humbling and great to follow them," he said.
Shar’on Fuller from Hopewell works on the U.S.S. Abraham Lincoln.
In since 2014, the 24-year-old sailor has made the Navy his career.
His next step? Become a recruiter.
"I love being in. The influence. The structure. It is pretty nice," Fuller said. "To my friends and family. I love all of you. I do this for all of you. Stay motivated."
Specialist Logistics Specialst Kayleigh Pillay, 27, is from Mechanicsville.
"I never thought I would be doing this, but I have a love of the ocean I said, ‘Why not,’" she said. "I do miss home, but I enjoy the experience being able to do this."
Pillay supplies sailors on U.S.S. George H. W. Bush where one in four sailors is a woman.
"When you think about the Navy you think about mostly males. But being that I’m a female in the Navy and having so many other women serving with me is an honor," she said.
Alexandria native Lt. Dan Palmer is learning to fly the F/A Super Hornet. The biggest thrill? Landing and taking off from a moving ship.
"Every day is a blast," he said. "Everything from the catapult shot at the end of the runway. You’re going 160 mph. It's awesome. It's incredible. The reason I became a fighter pilot is because I want to help guys on the ground overseas. That is a big motivator for me."
Atlee High School graduate Mike Martin prepares Super Hornets for takeoff at Naval Station Norfolk.
"We basically have to work like a sewing machine to operate these jets," he said. "I absolutely love them. Being a part of this job, these planes are basically your babies."
The 21-year-old sailor is obsessed with aviation and said part of him goes up with each flight.
"That is my job, to make sure they are ready to fly. To see them take off from the runway is absolutely amazing just like you’re seeing right now. I wouldn’t want any other job in the world."
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