More than weekend warriors: U.S. military reservists
"Reservists are here to learn while assisting in all that we do"
Electrician’s Mate 3rd Class Peter Oculien, a Navy reservist from Ocala, Fla., installs a gyro repeater in the main control room aboard the amphibious dock landing ship USS Ashland. Ashland is operating in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region to enhance interoperability with partners and serve as a ready-response force for any type of contingency. Photo: U.S. Navy/Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Jonathan Clay
U.S. military reservists play major role in America’s global readiness
By JONATHAN CLAY, Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class
PHILLIPINE SEA NEAR GUAM — U.S. military reservists play a major role in the nation’s readiness to protect U.S. interests globally. Much is expected of them as it is with active duty personnel. That means they get the jitters, too.
“On my way I was very nervous, worried I might not be ready,” said Electrician’s Mate 3rd Class Peter Oculien, a Navy reservist originally from Saint Lucia.
Oculien, an overnight sales associate for a large retailer and full-time college student in Central Florida, had flown over 8,000 miles from Florida to land in Guam to start an active duty training period aboard the forward-deployed landing ship USS Ashland.
Ashland had requested reserve support in critical areas to enhance material readiness and training readiness. Oculien was one of 18 reserve sailors who would embark during Ashland’s mid-deployment maintenance availability in Guam in early September for a 25-day stretch.
Oculien had joined the Navy Reserves in 2015 to assist in college tuition and to become a naturalized U.S. citizen. He had mostly served his two-weeks a year on active duty in out-of-rate jobs that were shore based. This year, the opportunity to join a ship was advertised and he jumped for it.
Being his first time on a ship and lacking some of the basic qualifications of shipboard life that most active sailors have, Oculien naturally had some initial jitters. But those jitters quickly faded as stepped from pier onto Ashland. Excitement ran through his veins.
“I was going to be accomplishing a life-long goal,” said Oculien. “This would be my first time on a ship, and I was very excited about the opportunity.”
His active duty counterparts welcomed him with open arms, showing him around the ship and easing fears about qualifications.
“Once I met my division, my worries were gone,” Oculien said.
In no time, Oculien was working side-by-side with his active duty counterparts, contributing to the daily tasks of the EM shop. They not only made him feel part of the family but dedicated time to train him in the EM rate.
“They care about you,” Oculien said about working with his shipmates.
Members of Oculien’s shop felt he has been a great addition to the team.
“He’s always ready,” said Electrician’s Mate 3rd Class Michael Mansfield, an Ashland sailor who works with Oculien. “He picks up knowledge really easily and always asks how he can help. He’s a great example of how motivated reservists are.”
“Reservists were here to learn while assisting in all that we do,” said Cmdr. Patrick German, Ashland’s executive officer. “This was an opportunity for them to brush up their skills and get some qualifications covered. They were able to do that and they were a wonderful addition to the ship.”
German said he wanted the reservists to know that this would always be their ship and it’s important for other reservists to be aware of the opportunities.
“Reservists have a choice of where they can go,” said German. “We encourage them to come out more, see what we are doing, be a part of what we are doing and support the fleet.”