When the Abilene High School’s graduating class of 2010 walked across the stage, received their diplomas and headed out into the adult world, several had no idea where they would be in three years later.
Some are pursuing post high school education and some entered the work force but one Abilene High School graduate knew exactly what he wanted to do. Ryan Dover is now an Airman in the Navy and is in the Coral Sea.
“The main reason I joined the Navy was to go live across the world,” he said.
He got his wish.
Growing up in an Army family, he saw much of Europe but hadn’t been to the Asian countries. He now spends half his year at sea aboard the USS George Washington, where he gets to visit places like the Philippines, Guam and Australia. He spends the other half in the port city of Yokosuka, Japan.
“Living in Japan is completely different. There is a big difference. In Abilene everybody knows everybody and when I lived in Abilene I needed a car but here in Japan everything is in walking distance,” he said. “And I was used to living with my parents.”
Life with parents in rural Kansas is a far cry from daily life in a busy Japanese city but Dover is taking advantage of the opportunity and experiencing new adventures, new cultures, and new foods, some which might be near impossible to find anywhere in Kansas.
“The food is completely different. It is very unique. When they talk about raw fish, they absolutely mean that,” he said. Among the more strange items that he had to try was crab brains. “It doesn’t taste very good.”
When he leaves Japan, he will leave with more memories than many others his age will ever have. Among them is the thrill of climbing Mount Fuji, not once but twice, and hopefully at least one more time before his time is up.
The festivals they have are also unique and very different from what is customary in Europe or Kansas.
“Here they have crowds marching down the streets doing shows for people,” he said.
But it’s not all fun and games and one extended vacation. Dover is an Aviation Electrician's Mate onboard a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier.
Aviation Electrician's Mates are responsible for aircraft electrical power generating and converting systems. They maintain lighting, control and indicating systems and can install as well as maintain flight and engine instrument systems.
“I love my job. My job is great. I get to see something new every day,” he said.
Life aboard the ship is an experience itself. When they are out to sea they are hanging out with, working with, and seeing the same people 24 hours a day.
“If you are big on privacy, being on a ship wouldn’t be for you,” he said.
When he thinks about rural Kansas he remembers being able to look out his window and see nothing for miles, having a sense of solitude and being alone.
“Here at sea, I can do the same thing – sort of,” he said.
USS George Washington
Taken from the web site
Type of Vessel: Nuclear-powered aircraft carrier
Builder: Newport News Shipbuilding Company
Contract Date: December 27, 1982
Keel Laid: August 25, 1986
Christened: July 21, 1990
Commissioned: July 4, 1992
Propulsion: Two nuclear reactors that permit the ship to steam for almost 18 years before refueling.
Speed: More than 30 knots
Length of Flight Deck: 1,092 feet
Width of Flight Deck: 275 feet
Height (keel to mast): 244 feet
Flight Deck Area: 4.5 acres
Combat Load Displacement: 97,000 tons
Number of aircraft with embarked Airwing: About 75
Aircraft Elevators: Four, each 3,880 square feet
Number of Catapults: Four
Number of Propellers: Four, each 22 feet in diameter, brass, five-bladed and weighing 66,200 pounds each.
Number of Anchors: Two, each weighing about 30 tons
Crew accommodations: 6,250
Length of Flight Deck: 1,092 feet
Meals served daily: 18,000
Number of Compartments and Spaces: 3,360
Number of Telephones: 2,000
Capacity of Air Conditioning System: 3,267 tons
Daily capacity of Fresh Water Distilling Plants: 400,000 gallons, enough to supply 2,000 homes
Lighting Fixtures: 30,000
Length of Wiring and Cable: More than 1,400 miles
Tons of Structural Steel: 60,000