SASEBO, Japan – Seaman J'Deja Scott, a native of Santee, was inspired by her aunt to join the military.
She always looked up to her aunt because of the way she carried herself and what she did for a job. Scott thought the Navy would provide her the opportunity to succeed as well as continue her education.
Now, five months later and half a world away, Scott serves aboard one of the Navy’s most dependable amphibious ships at Fleet Activities Sasebo, patrolling one of the world’s busiest maritime regions as part of U.S. 7th Fleet.
“You work with people from all walks of life on the ship, so to come together on common goals and get a ship moving is a cool thing,” Scott said. “Also, it’s a small ship so we are a tight-knit community. I enjoy that part.”
Scott, a 2018 graduate of Lake Marion High School, works in the deck department aboard the forward-deployed Whidbey Island-class dock landing ship USS Ashland in Sasebo, Japan.
“My job is to help get the ship squared away like painting and preserving,” Scott said. “We are also in charge of the safety equipment, the rigid-hulled inflatable rescue boats, and we are in charge of escorting the Marines to and from shore.”
Scott credits success in the Navy to many of the lessons learned in Santee.
“I learned a lot from my grandma,” she said. “One thing she taught me was perseverance. This has helped me because even when times get tough, you can’t just quit, you have to keep pressing on.”
U.S. 7th Fleet spans more than 124 million square kilometers, stretching from the International Date Line to the India/Pakistan border; and from the Kuril Islands in the North to the Antarctic in the South. U.S. 7th Fleet's area of operations encompasses 36 maritime countries and 50 percent of the world’s population, with between 50-70 U.S. ships and submarines, 140 aircraft and approximately 20,000 sailors.
“Our work schedule is rough so you have to learn to be very flexible,” Scott said. “As a boatswain’s mate, you have a lot of aspects to your job, there’s long and tiresome hours, it takes a toll on your body. The one thing that you can take from all of it is just learning from the experiences and try to learn as much as you can about your job.”
Though there are many ways for sailors to earn distinction in their command, community and career, Scott is most proud of being able to stay fit while working a busy schedule.
“I passed my physical readiness test recently so that is a big deal because I didn't think I was going to pass,” said Scott. “It’s though trying to stay focused out here while we are always working getting ready for deployments. I feel motivated that I was able to pass.”
As a member of one of the U.S. Navy’s most relied upon assets, Scott and other sailors know they are part of a legacy that will last beyond their lifetimes contributing to the Navy the nation needs.
“There are so many reasons why I serve in the Navy,” she said. “First, I’m able to give back to the country in a sense. Also, freedom isn’t free, someone needs to put in the effort to keep the country safe. Lastly, I feel like since I joined, I can be a role model to my siblings and kids back home.”