MAYPORT, Fla. – A 2014 Grayslake Central High School graduate and Grayslake native is one of more than 1,000 sailors who recently returned to Naval Station Mayport after a six-month deployment to the Middle East and Mediterranean areas of operation.
Ensign Genelle Arandia is a Navy officer aboard the New York, an amphibious transport dock ship, which takes Marines to the locations they need to support U.S. interests around the world.
“I enjoy working with my sailors,” Arandia said. “They work really hard and make me laugh.”
Arandia credits success in the Navy to many of the lessons learned in Grayslake.
“I learned that things take time and you have to be patient,” Arandia said.
The USS New York is a memorial to a horrific tragedy and spectacular heroism from the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. More than 7 tons of reclaimed steel was integrated into the ship’s bow structure from the World Trade Center.
From the ship’s commissioning on Nov. 7, 2009, to this day, the New York stays true to its motto, “Strength forged through sacrifice. Never forget.”
Along with Empire State sailors, Marines were embarked from the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit. As part of the Amphibious Ready Group, these forces provided maritime security and crisis response, bringing a U.S. naval presence to Europe and the Middle East.
The New York made a seven-day stop in Piraeus, Greece, where more sailors and Marines enjoyed the opportunity to meet with their hosts as both nations are committed to promoting peace and stability in the region, according to Navy officials.
“Aboard New York, we are proud of what we accomplished on our recent deployment,” said Capt. Brent DeVore, commanding officer aboard New York. “We made important contributions to maritime security throughout the Mediterranean, and strengthened our relationships and partnerships throughout the area. Our sailors and Marines provided a ready team to execute the full range of amphibious missions wherever, and whenever, we were needed.”
Though there are many ways for sailors to earn distinction in their command, community and career, Arandia is most proud of earning the engineer qualification.
“It’s definitely something that took a while and challenged me,” Arandia said.
As a member of one of the U.S. Navy’s most relied upon assets, Arandia and other sailors know they are part of a legacy that will last beyond their lifetimes, one that will provide a critical component of the Navy the nation needs.
“It means a lot,” Arandia said. “My dad was a chief, so it’s a tradition. This is like giving back and serving my country.”