A 2010 Dulles High School graduate and Sugar Land native is serving in the U.S. Navy aboard the amphibious assault ship, USS Bataan (LHD 5).
Petty Officer 2nd Class John Cherry is a gunner’s mate aboard the Wasp-class amphibious assault ship operating out of Norfolk, Va. A Navy gunner’s mate is responsible for the overall maintenance and effectiveness of multiple weapons systems on the boat.
“I like that I am able to interact and teach people gun safety and the correct way to operate firearms,” said Cherry.
Commissioned in 1997, the Wasp-class amphibious assault ship, USS Bataan, is 844 feet long. The ship is named in honor of the defense of the Bataan Peninsula during World War II and is the second ship to bear the name. Bataan, one of the largest of all amphibious warfare ships, resembles a small aircraft carrier. It is equipped with a mix of helicopters and attack aircraft, launchers and machine guns and an extensive medical facility with 600 hospital beds.
“I have the best job in the entire world,” said Capt. J.C. Carter, commanding officer of the USS Bataan. “Every day, I get to work the best young Americans that our country has to offer! They have endured long deployments and they have engaged the enemy successfully. It is an honor to serve alongside the next greatest generation.”
Approximately 70 officers and 1,000 enlisted men and women make up the ship’s company. Their jobs are highly specialized and keep each part of the amphibious assault ship running smoothly. The jobs range from washing dishes and preparing meals to maintaining engines and handling weaponry.
“I like the people I work with,” said Cherry. “We are pretty close knit and always complete our tasks in a timely manner.”
Although it is difficult for most people to imagine living on a ship, the challenging living conditions build strong fellowship among the crew. The crew is highly motivated, and quickly adapt to changing conditions. It is a busy life of specialized work, watches, and drills.
As a member of one of the U.S. Navy’s most relied upon assets, Cherry and other Bataan sailors know they are part of a legacy that will be last beyond their lifetimes.
“I have grown in my overall leadership skills,” said Cherry. “I have also become more independent and believe if you want something, never give up on it.”