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Onboard the USS Nimitz: The next generation of sailors

USS Nimitz.jpg
Posted at 4:32 PM, Aug 24, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-24 21:25:06-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — Sailing along the Pacific is the Navy's oldest carrier ship- the USS Nimitz, preparing to deploy.

Onboard are hundreds of sailors with a specific job. Whether it's in the kitchen feeding sailors, working on the flight deck, or cutting hair like Niamiah Alston.

"It's cool because when I cut hair, everyone likes to talk. So, everyone has a different side of the story. So, I know so much from so many people. There's so much culture and different backgrounds. It's pretty cool," said Niamiah Alston.

It's a full-circle moment for the San Diego native. He's following in the footsteps of his mom, who also served in the Navy.

"The crazy part is she was also my job when she was in the Navy," said Alston.

He cuts sailors like Lazarus Ford's hair. He works on the deck.

"I work on maintenance -DCO, that ranges from fire stations, doors, CO2 bottles then also standing watch," said Ford.

While there are hundreds of sailors onboard the USS Nimitz, the Navy needs more. It is working to combat recruitment woes they face in a competitive market. Last fiscal year, the Navy told ABC 10News it didn't meet its goals for active-duty or reserve officers.

It did exceed its goal for active-duty enlisted sailors.

"Not many people can say, 'I'm a united states sailor,' and not many people can say that they are," said Ford. "I mean, that's one percent of our population."

Ford said he enlisted because he was at a crossroads it was either finishing a biochemistry degree or serving his country.

"I kind of had my, what I like to call midlife crisis on what I wanted to do with my life, and I realized the military was something I had always been interested in," said Ford. "I just kinda got steered away from it, but that opportunity was still there."

Alston was facing a similar dilemma.

He wanted to play football in college, but he graduated at the height of the pandemic.

"I didn't want to be in the house anymore, and I wanted my own little job. So I was like- you know what- I looked into the military. I looked into all branches," said Alston.

He was sold on the Navy.

Alston plans to head go to college once he finishes his time in the Navy, while Ford wants to head to continue serving his country in another branch of the military.

Both sailors tell the next generation to do their research.

"Everyone has a general point of view about the military. So I would say to people and get all types of points of view and if you like what you're hearing, then join," said Alston.