PEARL HARBOR – A Baton Rouge, Louisiana, native and 2017 Woodlawn High School graduate is serving in the U.S. Navy aboard the guided-missile cruiser, USS Port Royal Seaman Elijah Sykes has served in the Navy for one-and-a-half years and is a U.S. Navy cryptologic technician (technical) aboard guided-missile cruiser operating out of Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.
Sykes credits success in the Navy to many of the lessons learned in Baton Rouge.“Keeping a steady foot, being assertive and getting the job done at that moment was something I brought into my Navy career,” said Sykes. Approximately 300 men and women serve aboard the ship. According to Navy officials, their jobs are highly specialized and keep each part of the cruiser running smoothly. They do everything from maintaining gas turbine engines and operating the highly sophisticated Aegis weapons system to driving the ship and operating small boats.Though there are many ways for sailors to earn distinction in their command, community, and career, Sykes is most proud of completing boot camp last year.
“I have just started my career but the Navy has put me in a great position,” said Sykes.
A Navy cruiser is a multi-mission ship that can operate independently or as part of a larger group of ships at sea Navy officials explained. The ship is equipped with a vertical launching system, tomahawk missiles, torpedoes, guns, and a phalanx close-in weapons systems. Being stationed in Pearl Harbor, often referred to as the gateway to the Pacific in defense circles, means Sykes is serving in a part of the world taking on a new importance in America’s focus on rebuilding military readiness, strengthening alliances, and reforming business practices in support of the National Defense Strategy.“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.”The Navy has been pivotal in helping maintain peace and stability in the Pacific region for decades. The Pacific is home to more than 50 percent of the world’s population, many of the world’s largest and smallest economies, several of the world’s largest militaries, and many U.S. allies.
Serving in the Navy is a continuing tradition of military service for Sykes, who has military ties with family members who have previously served. Sykes is honored to carry on that family tradition.
“Several of my family members served,” said Sykes. “I am happy to continue the legacy of being in the military and my family has been very supportive of my decision.”
As a member of one of the U.S. Navy’s most relied upon assets, Sykes 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.
“To me, serving in the Navy means protecting the waterfront and doing my duties on and off the ship,” said Sykes. “It’s not only what I can do for the Navy but what it can do for me.”
By Chief Mass Communication Specialist Erica R. Gardner, Navy Office of Community Outreach U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Brian T. Glunt