San Tan Valley native serves aboard naval destroyer

Navy Fireman Nathan Wilson of San Tan Valley is serving aboard the U.S. Navy destroyer USS Fitzgerald south of Tokyo. Fireman Wilson graduated from Poston Butte High School. (Photo courtesy of Navy Office of Community Outreach)

Navy Fireman Nathan Wilson of San Tan Valley is serving aboard the U.S. Navy destroyer USS Fitzgerald south of Tokyo. Fireman Wilson graduated from Poston Butte High School. (Photo courtesy of Navy Office of Community Outreach)

A 2012 Poston Butte High School graduate and San Tan Valley native is serving aboard the U.S. Navy destroyer USS Fitzgerald (DDG 62), living and working at the Navy’s forward-deployed base south of Tokyo.
Fireman Nathan Wilson is an electrician’s mate aboard the destroyer operating out of Yokosuka, which is approximately 35 miles south of Tokyo and accommodates the United States’ furthest forward-deployed naval force.
An Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer, Fitzgerald is 505 feet long, or more than 1-1/2 football fields.
The ship is 66 feet wide and weighs more than 9,200 tons. Its four gas turbine engines can push the ship through the ocean at nearly 35 miles per hour.
The ship is named in honor of Lt. William Charles Fitzgerald, who was posthumously awarded the Navy Cross for extraordinary heroism on Aug. 7, 1967 in Vietnam.
As a sailor with numerous responsibilities, Fireman Wilson said he is proud to serve his country aboard a destroyer in Japan.
“I work with the ship’s electrical systems and stand watches to monitor equipment,” he said.
As a member of one of the U.S. Navy’s most versatile combat ships, Fireman Wilson and other Fitzgerald sailors understand they are part of a forward-deployed team that is heavily relied upon to help protect and defend America across the world’s oceans.
“The Navy has given me the opportunity to travel and see the world,” said Fireman Wilson. “It sets me up for a good base for the future.”
Fireman Wilson also said he is proud of the work he is doing as part of the Fitzgerald’s 300-member crew, living thousands of miles from home and protecting America on the world’s oceans.
“I enjoy meeting new people and being able to work well together to complete a common goal or task,” he said.
“Fitzgerald sailors represent every state in the union as well as a diversity of ethnicities. It is an honor to lead and serve with the finest sailors the nation has to offer,” said Cmdr. Chris England, the ship’s commanding officer. “These sailors should be justifiably proud of their accomplishments — a direct reflection of their dedication to mission accomplishment, motivation and commitment to the Navy.”
Approximately 40 officers and 260 enlisted men make up the ship’s company. Their jobs are highly specialized and keep each part of the $2 billion destroyer running smoothly.
This includes everything from washing dishes and preparing meals to maintaining engines and handling weaponry.
Fast, maneuverable and technically advanced, destroyers provide the required warfighting expertise and operational flexibility to execute any tasking overseas.
With multi-mission capabilities in surface warfare, anti-submarine warfare, anti-air warfare, ballistic missile defense and humanitarian assistance, Arleigh Burke destroyers excel as the Navy’s premier fighting warship.
Assigned to U.S. Seventh Fleet, Fitzgerald sailors are continuously on watch throughout the Indo-Asia-Pacific region, acting as America’s first responders in that part of the world.

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