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Navy Week: A Familiar Face In A Strange Place

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The windswept flight deck of the U.S.S John C. Stennis bears little resemblances to a windswept cornfield in the Midwest. But, aboard the aircraft carrier that seems to never sleep, are people who once called the Upper Midwest home.   

“You get the wind. You get the water and the worst-case scenario out there. And you got to hang on for dear life. But, when you walk back in at the end of the day, it's very rewarding,” said Jennifer Stone.  

Jennifer Stone hails from the tiny town of Adrian Minnesota. The one time University of Sioux Falls student is now in her third year of service.

“I chalk and chain basically when we move aircraft down here in the hangar bay or up top on the flight deck,” said Stone.  

Miles into the Pacific Ocean, Stone says being on an aircraft carrier is nothing like being in a small town.

“Not at all because you know everybody and everybody knows you, whereas out here, you meet new people. You've got to be vulnerable to meet new people everywhere you go,” said Stone.  

Jennifer Stone and the other Navy sailors protect the waterways around the world. Which may not affect life on daily basis in landlocked states but members of the Navy say they do play a role in the nations ability to do business.

“We protect free trade,” said Justin Shineman who is the navigator of the ship. “If another country were to try to block a strategic straight or prevent the movement of those ships, the folks in Sioux Falls who harvest wheat may not be able to sell that wheat to foreign countries.”

Protecting cornfields may not be on the minds of the young men and women running the multibillion-dollar vessel but a deeper sense of patriotism isn't hard to find.

“To know that we're out there, defending the freedom for our families and friends back home, it’s an adrenaline rush.

For many the U.S.S. John C. Stennis will only be a temporary home.  

“Many of them go back to their hometown and bring those skills with them. So, it's a great opportunity for these young people,” said Shineman.

A city on the sea, working to protect the interests of a country, filled with sailors from all over America.
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