Chicago Native Takes Marines to the Fight aboard U.S. Navy Warship
By William Lovelady
Senior Chief Mass Communication Specialist, Navy Office of Community Outreach
Petty Officer 2nd Class Alejandra Gueta, a native of Chicago, always wanted to join the military.
Now, seven years later, Gueta serves aboard one of the Navy’s amphibious ships at Naval Base San Diego.
“We’re very busy but it’s rewarding at the end of the day,” said Gueta. “No matter what the job is, we get it done.”
Gueta, a 2012 graduate of Hubbard High School, is a boatswains mate aboard USS Essex, one of four Wasp-class amphibious assault ships in the Navy, homeported in San Diego.
“I’m the leading petty officer for second division and we handle all the boatswain’s mate gear in the rear half of the ship,” said Gueta.
Gueta credits success in the Navy to many of the lessons learned in Chicago.
“I was taught to always stand up for myself and don’t let anyone step all over me,” said Gueta.
Essex is designed to deliver U.S. Marines and their equipment where they are needed to support a variety of missions ranging from amphibious assaults to humanitarian relief efforts. Designed to be versatile, the ship has the option of simultaneously using helicopters, Harrier jets, and Landing Craft Air Cushioned (LCAC), as well as conventional landing craft and assault vehicles in various combinations.
Because of their inherent capabilities, these ships have been and will continue to be called upon to support humanitarian and other contingency missions on short notice.
Sailors’ jobs are highly varied aboard Essex. More than 1,000 men and women make up the ship’s crew, which keeps all parts of the ship running smoothly, from handling weaponry to maintaining the engines. An additional 1,200 Marines can be embarked.
Serving in the Navy means Gueta 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.
America is a maritime nation, and 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.
“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, Gueta is most proud of being able to be selected Sailor of the Quarter for Naval Medical Center San Diego and now for Essex.
“It shows that not only do I work hard to excel in my career but I also work hard at helping other sailors as well,” said Gueta.
As a member of one of the U.S. Navy’s most relied upon assets, Gueta and other sailors know they are part of a legacy that will last beyond their lifetimes contributing to the Navy the nation needs.
“Serving in the Navy means having courage to do what not everyone in the world can do and having that commitment to my country even if it means having to leave my 3-year-old behind,” said Gueta.