Action News Jax is highlighting our local men and women in uniform who sacrifice so much for us every day.
Only we can give you rare access on board the USS Harry S. Truman, which is home to dozens of Jacksonville sailors.
Action news Jax Lorena Inclán was invited to spend 24 hours on board the aircraft carrier to see how sailors live, work and play.
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There’s no greater deterrent for war than having a massive vessel, such as an aircraft carrier, anchored near your shores.
But to keep the USS Harry S. Truman afloat, it takes a village, in this case it takes more than 5,000 sailors.
Xavier Wiley, 19, is one of them.
“I wanted to do something with my life and get out of Jacksonville, so I joined the Navy,” said Wiley.
Wiley attended Robert E. Lee High School.
For him, life in Jacksonville wasn’t always easy.
“I grew up on the northside, single mom, five kids. It wasn’t the easiest, but I got through it,” he said.
He now has an important job onboard the Truman.
“I love the Navy, I love my job.”
Wiley works in the engine room along with fellow Jacksonville native Ray Brown.
“It’s overwhelming sometimes, but that’s why I love it -- ‘cause I know I’m important and I’m needed,” said Brown.
Life onboard an aircraft carrier can be difficult. It takes patience and a good sense of direction.
“One of the most challenging parts about being aboard the ship was getting around,” said Inclán. “A lot of the passage ways or p-ways, what they’re called here, they all pretty much look the same. There are signs on the wall, but if you don’t know what you’re looking for or how to read that sign it’s very easy to get lost.”
“I just found my way around the ship,” said Wiley.
Right now, Wiley is working toward making rank and he’ll soon start traveling the world.
Back home in Jacksonville, his mom couldn’t be prouder.
“My momma always bragging about me. Anybody that come to the house she tells them,” said Wiley.
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