Mikaela Williams

Tupelo native Mikaela Williams is a culinary specialist aboard the USS Fort McHenry.

KIEL, Germany • Mikaela Williams has taken the slogan “Join the Navy, See the World” to heart.

The Tupelo native is a culinary specialist aboard the USS Fort McHenry, a Whidbey Island-class dock landing ship. The ship started 2019 in the Mediterranean Sea, traveling through the Dardanelles Strait into the Black Sea. By summer, the ship was in the Baltic Sea, stopping at the north German port of Kiel.

“Deployment was better than I was expected because of the people, they became like my family,” said Williams. “I love going to new places and experiencing new food and sightseeing. This is my first time out of America.

“Serving in the Navy means a lot because you feel like you are doing something more with yourself and for other people. I joined because I wanted to make a better future for me and my daughter.”

Since joining the Navy in 2016, she has progressed through the ranks. Though there are many ways for sailors to earn distinction in their command, community and career, Williams is most proud of making third class petty officer.

“I felt like I achieved the next stepping stone and I needed it,” Williams said. “It was a major goal of mine. I was stoked.”

She credits success in the Navy to many of the lessons learned growing up in Tupelo.

“Growing up, we always said treat people the way you want to be treated,” Williams said.

Last month, Williams and her ship participated in the Baltic Operations exercise. The two-week operation included sea, air and land assets. The exercise began in Kiel, Germany. Ships and sailors from 18 nations participated in the at-sea training throughout the Baltic Sea. Exercises included events near Saaremaa Island, Estonia; Riga, Latvia; Klaipeda, Lithuania and Ravlunda, Sweden. At the end of the exercise, most ships sailed to Kiel to participate in the Kielerwochen Festival (Kiel Week).

Serving in the Navy means Williams 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.

“Our priorities center on people, capabilities and processes, and will be achieved by our focus on speed, value, results and partnerships,” said Secretary of the Navy Richard V. Spencer. “Readiness, lethality and modernization are the requirements driving these priorities.”

william.moore@journalinc.com Twitter:@WilliamMoore_DJ

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