With the recent observance of the 15th anniversary of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, a South Miami High School 2004 graduate and
Miami native is serving in the U.S. Navy aboard a ship built using steel from the World Trade Center.
Petty Officer Third Class Michello Willard is a hospital corpsman aboard USS New York. He is responsible for the health and wellness of the crew.
USS New York, one of the Navy’s newest and most advanced amphibious ships, is designed to deliver Marines and their equipment where they are needed to support a variety of missions ranging from amphibious assaults to humanitarian relief efforts.
“What I enjoy most about my job is that it gives me the knowledge needed to take care of the health and welfare of my fellow sailors and their families,” Willard said.
Homeported in Mayport, FL, USS New York, named for the state of New York, is longer than two football fields at 684 feet, is 105 feet wide and weighs more than 24,000 tons. It has four diesel engines that can push the ship through the water in excess of 26 mph.
According to the Navy, New York’s bow, forged from steel salvaged from the wreckage of the 9/11 World Trade Center, embodies the strength and determination of the people of the United States to recover, rally, and take the fight to the enemy and honor the memory of those who were affected by the attacks. USS New York forges an enduring alliance between the people of New York, the ship, and her crew.
Serving in the Navy and aboard New York, Willard said he constantly is learning how to be the best leader, sailor and person possible by handling numerous responsibilities, meeting deadlines, and forging lasting professional relationships.
“It’s my first experience with shipboard life in doing various jobs outside my rating and working alongside sailors with different skills,” Willard said. “It’s a completely different atmosphere from the hospital environment.”
Sailors’ jobs are highly varied aboard USS New York. More than 400 men and women make up the crew, which keeps all parts of the ship running smoothly, from washing dishes and preparing meals to handling weaponry and maintaining the engines. An additional 700 Marines can be embarked.
New York is capable of transporting the Marines and landing them where they are needed via helicopters, vertical takeoff and landing aircraft and landing craft.
“The sailors who serve aboard USS New York are exceptional in so many ways,” said Capt. Kenneth M. Coleman, the ship’s commanding officer. “They represent some of the hardest working and most dedicated Americans I have served with in 25 years of naval service. They exhibit an impressive level of pride for serving onboard a ship that means so much to so many Americans. I am honored to lead this crew and be a part of the special bond that this ship and her crew shares with her namesake.”
Collectively, the San Antonio-class ships will functionally replace more than 41 ships providing the Navy and Marine Corps with modern sea-based platforms. Amphibious transport dock ships are warships that embark, transport, and land elements of a landing force for a variety of expeditionary warfare missions. These ships support amphibious assault, special operations or expeditionary warfare missions and can serve as secondary aviation platforms for amphibious ready groups.
Because of their inherent capabilities, these ships have been and will continue to be called upon to support humanitarian and other contingency missions on short notice as well.
As a member of one of the U.S. Navy’s high-tech amphibious assault ships, Willard said he and other New York sailors are proud to part of a warfighting team that embodies the spirit, strength and resilience of the American people.
“Having the opportunity to serve on the New York is one of the reasons why I was interested in joining the military,” Willard said. “To protect this country, because it gives me the opportunities to experience different settings and cultures that I would not have experienced in my native country.”