A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Lexington native, Bryan Station graduate Ja’Mel Withrow serves aboard floating airport at sea


A Lexington native and 2007 Bryan Station High School graduate is serving in the U.S. Navy aboard the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush.

Petty Officer 2nd Class Ja’mel Withrow is a hospital corpsman aboard the carrier operating out of the Navy’s largest base.

As a hospital corpsman, Withrow is responsible for the health and welfare of the sailors aboard the ship.

Ja’mal Withrow (Photo from Navy Office of Community Outreach)

“Being deployed was my favorite part of serving on the ship,” said Withrow. “Seeing different countries and emerging myself into the culture.”

Named in honor of former President George H.W. Bush, the carrier is longer than three football fields, measuring nearly 1,100 feet. The ship, a true floating city, weighs more than 100,000 tons and has a flight deck that is 252 feet wide. Two nuclear reactors can push the ship through the water at more than 35 mph.

Powerful catapults slingshot the aircraft off the bow of the ship. The planes land aboard the carrier by snagging a steel cable with an arresting hook that protrudes from the rear of the aircraft.

As a sailor with numerous responsibilities, Withrow learns about life at sea serving in the Navy and the importance of taking personal responsibility while leading others while still using lessons learned from their hometown.

“My hometown taught me everything serves a purpose,” said Withrow. “In the Navy, that helps me understand you will eventually need everyone for something.”

Sailors’ jobs are highly varied aboard the carrier. Approximately 3,200 men and women make up the ship’s crew, which keeps all parts of the aircraft carrier running smoothly — this includes everything from washing dishes and preparing meals to handling weaponry and maintaining the nuclear reactors. Another 2,500 men and women form the air wing responsible for flying and maintaining more than 70 aircraft aboard the ship.

George H.W. Bush, like each of the Navy’s aircraft carriers, is designed for a 50-year service life. When the air wing is embarked, the ship carries more than 70 attack jets, helicopters, and other aircraft, all of which take off from and land aboard the carrier at sea.

All of this makes the George H.W. Bush a self-contained mobile airport and strike platform, and often the first response to a global crisis because of a carrier’s ability to operate freely in international waters anywhere on the world’s oceans.

“My proudest accomplishment in the Navy is becoming triple warfare qualified,” said Withrow.

As a member of one of the U.S. Navy’s most relied upon assets, Withrow and other George H.W. Bush sailors know they are part of a legacy that will last beyond their lifetimes providing the Navy the nation needs.

“The Navy has taught me the value of being a citizen,” added Withrow. “Everyone has a voice and it’s our duty to step up and represent our country.”

From Navy Office of Community Outreach


Related Posts

Leave a Comment