Now, five years later and half a world away, Hall serves aboard one of the Navy’s newest and most advanced amphibious ships at Fleet Activities Sasebo, patrolling one of the world’s busiest maritime regions as part of U.S. 7th Fleet.
“It's very busy,” he said. “Work never stops here. We're very pressed for time, constantly. But it does flow well. We're a really tight-knit group on board. I can name just about everyone by face alone.”
Hall, a 2010 graduate of Tri-Cities Christian High School, is a gunner's mate aboard the forward-deployed amphibious transport dock ship USS Green Bay.
“I’m the command maintenance assistant,” he said. “I assist in controlling the flow of the ship's maintenance work.”
Hall credits some of his success in the Navy to lessons learned in Jonesborough.
“I learned to always be respectful, regardless of someone's age or pay grade,” Hall said. “That's helped me the most, working here. I've learned in this job, that regardless of their experience, sometimes the ideas they come up with are far better than those with more experience. Before, I worked at a car wash and I saw an 18-year-old come up with a new system that ended up saving them tens of thousands of dollars. I learned to never discredit anyone.”
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 and 70 U.S. ships and submarines, 140 aircraft, and approximately 20,000 sailors.
“There's definitely a change in culture, coming here,” Hall said. “The people here act completely different from those back home. The greatest thing about serving out here is the multitude of different countries we get to go to.”
With more than 50 percent of the world's shipping tonnage and a third of the world's crude oil passing through the region, the United States has historic and enduring interests in this part of the world. The Navy's presence in Sasebo is part of that long-standing commitment.
"The Navy is forward-deployed to provide security and strengthen relationships in a free and open Indo-Pacific. It's not just the ships and aircraft that have shown up to prevent conflict and promote peace," said Vice Adm. Phil Sawyer, commander, U.S. 7th Fleet. "It is, and will continue to be our people who define the role our Navy plays around the world. People who've made a choice, and have the will and strength of character to make a difference."
These ships support missions from sea to shore, special operations and other warfare missions. They also serve as secondary aviation platforms. 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, according to Navy officials.
Sailors’ jobs are highly varied aboard the Green Bay.
More than 400 men and women make up the ship's crew, which keeps all parts of the ship running smoothly, from handling weaponry to maintaining the engines. An additional 700 Marines can be embarked. Green Bay is capable of transporting Marines and landing them where they are needed using helicopters, vertical takeoff and landing aircraft and other water-to-shore craft.
Serving in the Navy means Hall is part of a world that is taking on new importance in America’s focus on rebuilding military readiness, strengthening alliances and reforming business practices in support of the National Defense Strategy.
A key element of the Navy the nation needs is tied to the fact that America is a maritime nation, and that the nation’s prosperity is tied to the ability to operate freely on the world’s oceans. More than 70 percent of the Earth’s surface is covered by water; 80 percent of the world’s population lives close to a coast; and 90 percent of all global trade by volume travels by sea.
“Our priorities center on people, capabilities and processes, and will be achieved by our focus on speed, value, results and partnerships,” said Secretary of the Navy Richard V. Spencer. “Readiness, lethality and modernization are the requirements driving these priorities.”
There are many ways for sailors to earn distinction in their command, community, and career. Hall is most proud of his selection as a combat systems training team member at such a junior rank.
“Usually, that team’s reserved for E5 and above,” he said. “It meant that I was a subject matter expert and was recognized for it.”
As a member of one of the U.S. Navy’s most relied-upon assets, Hall and other sailors know they are part of a legacy that will last beyond their lifetimes, contributing to the Navy the nation needs.
“Service is a great chance to branch out and get to know other cultures and widen your perspective of the world,” he said.