Lexington native finds Navy is an ‘opportunity’ for life

MILLINGTON, Tenn. (WTVQ/U.S. Navy Office of Community Outreach) – A Lexington, Ky., native is serving aboard USS Essex, a U.S. Navy Wasp class amphibious assault ship.

Petty Officer 2nd Class Brett McMinoway is a 2012 Paul Laurence Dunbar High School graduate. Today, McMinoway serves as a mass communication specialist responsible for being a photo journalist, graphic designer and aerial photographer.

McMinoway joined the Navy for the opportunities serving provides.
“Like most people who join, I wanted to serve; but also I wanted to do something exciting and out of the ordinary routine,” said McMinoway. “I also wanted to see parts of the world a lot of people don’t get to. People have been ‘going out to sea’ for hundreds of years and the romanticism and allure in it hasn’t changed from sail to steam. There’s adventure and opportunity you can’t find anywhere else once you lose sight of land.”
According to McMinoway, the values required to succeed in the military are similar to those found in Lexington.
“Growing up a Kentuckian is a blessing from birth,” said McMinoway. “I love my Commonwealth above all, and the more places I travel the more I appreciate my Bluegrass roots. No matter where I roam, wearing a UK hat means I have a friend everywhere- someone in every room is from Kentucky, had a good experience in Kentucky or heard stories from someone else and wants to talk about it. Big Blue Nation is worldwide and my roots have found friends and opened doors in the most unlikely places. There’s nowhere else I’d rather roam than barefoot in a Bluegrass holler of my old Kentucky home.”
Homeported in San Diego, California, USS Essex is the second ship in the Wasp-class of multipurpose amphibious assault ships and the fifth ship named for Essex County, Massachusetts. Essex was a 1000-ton ironclad river gunboat of the U.S. Army and later U.S. Navy during the American Civil War.
According to Navy officials, amphibious assault ships are designed to deliver U.S. Marines and their equipment where they are needed to support a variety of missions ranging from amphibious assaults to humanitarian relief efforts
Designed to be versatile, the ship has the option of simultaneously using helicopters, Harrier jets, and Landing Craft Air Cushioned, as well as conventional landing craft and assault vehicles in various combinations.
“Being on board an LHD, I get to experience almost everything the Navy has to offer all in the same day,” said McMinoway. “I can watch jets and helicopters take off from our big deck, then walk below and see Landing Craft Air Cushions with humvees and small crafts full of Marines enter and exit from our well deck. We have the opportunities of a large ship but the atmosphere of a small one. From the weather decks, I can see some of the most advanced technology on the waterfront ready to defend our ship, and from the same spot, I can watch boatswains mates handling line the same way sailors did at our Nations birth. We really have it all.”
Though there are many opportunities for sailors to earn recognition in their command, community and careers, McMinoway is most proud of the people they have met.
“I’ve heard the military makes friends for life, but I didn’t realize how deep it ran,” said McMinoway. “I’ve made friends in every state and country that I could call after 20 years no contact and they’d still be on a plane to help within hours no questions asked. You really don’t make friends in the Navy, you make family.”
As a member of the U.S. Navy, McMinoway, as well as other sailors, know they are a part of a service tradition providing unforgettable experiences through leadership development, world affairs and humanitarian assistance. Their efforts will have a lasting effect around the globe and for generations of sailors who will follow.
“Serving in the Navy means sacrificing your comfort and freedoms for the comfort and freedom of others,” added McMinoway. “One of my best friends in the Navy once said, ‘that which we support and defend is not what we live in’. That stuck. Serving means my family and friends get to enjoy the parts of life I love and envy most while far away, cold, wet and tired. I work next to my brothers and sisters in the dark places of the world to make sure everyone back home gets to enjoy the American dream that I love and envy.”
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