Pemberville native talks about ‘absolute journey’ in the Navy

MILLINGTON, Tenn. – A Pemberville native is serving aboard Military Sealift Command hospital ship USNS Mercy as part of Pacific Partnership 2022, deployed in the Pacific Ocean.

Petty Officer 2nd Class Drace Wilson graduated from Van Buren High School in 2018 and joined the Navy four years ago.

“I joined the Navy because my uncle recommended that I join and told me that it was some of the most fun he had in his life,” Wilson said. “After looking into the possibility more, I thought that it would be a great opportunity to see the world, meet new people, and have my further education paid for.”

Mercy departed its homeport in San Diego on May 3, with more than 800 personnel aboard, including military medical and engineering personnel, support staff, partner nation representatives and civil service mariners to participate in the largest annual multinational humanitarian assistance and disaster relief preparedness mission in the Indo-Pacific.

Each year the Pacific Partnership staff works collectively with host and partner nations to enhance regional interoperability and disaster response capabilities, increase security and stability in the region, and foster new and enduring friendships.

Wilson is a mass communication specialist.

“During Pacific Partnership, my roll is to provide coverage of Pacific Partnership 2022’s mission and events in the form of photo, video, graphic design, and story products,” Wilson said.

At the invitation of host nations, Wilson and the Pacific Partnership team work together to conduct tailored medical, dental, veterinary, engineering civic action projects and subject-matter-expert exchanges.

“It’s very important to me to work alongside other countries during Pacific Partnership 2022,” Wilson said. “It helps build trust and strengthens relationships being able to exchange knowledge and information while being physically side-by-side with one another.”

Pacific Partnership assists local communities with a wide range of services enhancing host nation capabilities, building regional relationships, and exercising a collective ability to respond to situations, including humanitarian assistance and disaster relief efforts.

“Serving in the Navy for the past four years has been an absolute journey,” Wilson said. “I have been to countries all over the world and experienced their cultures. I have made lifelong friends who I couldn’t imagine living without. Finally, I have also grown as a person. I couldn’t imagine what I would be doing now if I hadn’t joined the Navy after looking back on all the things I have seen and experienced.”

Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Bryan Niegel is in the Navy Office of Community Outreach.