Home to the Navy’s only boot camp, Naval Station Great Lakes, Ill., has been turning civilians into U.S. Navy sailors for nearly a century.
The Navy’s largest training facility has trained and sent to the fleet more than two million new sailors through the Recruit Training Command, and nearly an equal number from its technical schools.
Petty Officer 1st Class Virginia Huft, a native of Palmdale, Calif., plays an important role at NAVSTA Great Lakes as a fire controlman, supporting the training and mentoring of sailors for the future of the fleet.
A fire controlman is responsible for working on various electronic equipment and performing maintenance on radars and missile systems for Navy warships and land-based commands.
Huft, a 2009 graduate of Palmdale High School, credits success in the Navy to many of the lessons learned growing up in Palmdale.
“I learned not to take things too seriously,” Huft said. “You need to focus your energy more on the positive things in life.”
NSGL’s mission is to enable and sustain fleet, family and fighter by providing superior, integrated base operating support for all tenant commands and elements on the installation.
NSGL supports over 50 tenant commands and elements as well as over 20,000 sailors, Marines, soldiers, and DOD civilians who live and work on the installation.
A key element of the Navy the nation needs is tied to the fact that America is a maritime nation, and that the nation’s prosperity is tied to the ability to operate freely on the world’s oceans. More than 70 percent of the Earth’s surface is covered by water; 80 percent of the world’s population lives close to a coast; and 90 percent of all global trade by volume travels by sea.
Huft plays an important role in America’s focus on rebuilding military readiness, strengthening alliances and reforming business practices in support of 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.”
Though there are many ways for sailors to earn distinction in their command, community and career, Huft is most proud of being skilled at her job.
“I had no original interest in electronics at first but after I joined the Navy, I found out I’m pretty good at it, and I like it,” Huft said. “It’s a very rewarding job field.”
Serving in the Navy is a continuing tradition of military service for Huft, who has military ties with family members who have previously served. Huft is honored to carry on the family tradition.
“My dad served in the Air Force during the early 60s,” Huft said. “I feel like he would be proud of me because he’s the one who planted the seed for me to join the military.”
As a member of one of the U.S. Navy’s most relied-upon assets, Huft and other sailors know they are part of a legacy that will last beyond their lifetimes providing the Navy the nation needs.
“I get to do more things that I didn’t expect to do and visit countries I never thought I’d have the opportunity to see,” Huft said.