By Lt. Robert Kearley, Navy Office of Community Outreach Public Affairs
SASEBO, JAPAN – A 2003 Excelsior High School graduate and Norwalk native is serving in Japan in the U.S. Navy aboard the only forward deployed amphibious assault ship, USS Bonhomme Richard.
Petty Officer 1st Class Diana Chavez is a culinary specialist aboard the Wasp-class amphibious assault ship operating out of Sasebo, Japan.
A Navy culinary specialist is responsible for providing 10,000 meals to over 3,000 sailors and Marines every day.
“What I like best about my job is the satisfaction it gives me in helping to boost morale with a home-cooked meal,” said Chavez.
With more than 50 percent of the world's shipping tonnage and a third of the world's crude oil passing through the region, the United States has historic and enduring interests in this part of the world. The Navy's presence in Sasebo is part of that long-standing commitment.
With a crew of more than 1,000, Bonhomme Richard is 884 feet long and weighs approximately 40,000 tons. Resembling a small aircraft carrier, Bonhomme Richard is one of the largest of all amphibious warfare ships.
Bonhomme Richard is equipped with a mix of helicopters and attack aircraft, launchers and machine guns and an extensive medical facility with 600 hospital beds.
"The sailors in my crew never cease to amaze me with the effort they put into their daily work,” said Capt. Jeffrey A. Ward, commanding officer of USS Bonhomme Richard. “Their dedication and hard work make me proud to be in command of Bonhomme Richard and this crew.”
According to Navy officials, Bonhomme Richard sailors work rigorous hours filled with drills and training to assure that the ship is always mission ready.
“Forward deployed means always being ready, completing the mission, and ensuring everyone returns home safely,” said Chavez.
Navy officials explained that the unit is highly motivated, and quickly adapts to changing conditions including a busy life of specialized work, watches, and drills.
“Serving in the Navy has given me the opportunity to provide a better future for my children, and to give back to a country that have given me so much,” added Chavez.