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Preston native shares his U.S. Navy experience


By Mitchell Walbridge

Fri, Jul 5th, 2013
Posted in Preston Features

By Mitchell Walbridge

American heroes grow up and live right among us in our small towns of Fillmore County. Whether these special individuals are part of the U.S. Army, Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps, or the Coast Guard, all have certain qualities in common including: bravery, a true dedication of service to their country, and pure selflessness.

Benjamin Woellert, son of Neil and Arlene Woellert, grew up in the Preston, Minn. area. Now, he’s a ranking member of the United States Navy. In fact, he’s been in the Navy since graduating from Fillmore Central High School as part of the class of 1998.

Woellert, now a resident of Niantic, Conn., can proudly say he has completed 14.5 years and counting of service to the United States. He has been stationed in various locations including South Carolina, Virginia, Hawaii, and most recently Connecticut. When asked about his favorite stationing location, Woellert responded, “I would have to say Hawaii has been my favorite so far.”

While he has been stationed at these various locations, Woellert has been on the crew of both the USS Scranton (SSN 756) and the USS Hawaii (SSN 776).

But there’s much more to being in the United States Navy than just moving from one base to another. “There’s really no typical day,” said Woellert, “Days usually run up to 18 hours sometimes.” During a typical day Woellert usually begins at 6:30am doing a variety of different tasks. Some responsibilities are shore watch duty and maintanence training. Woellert also continued his education while in the Navy, studying two years of nuclear engineering, which qualifies him for special duties in the Navy.

Serving just one enlistment period is sure to have an impact on an individual’s life and Woellert, now at age 33, has done three since he was 18. “It has really broadened my horizons. The stuff you see on television isn’t at all what happens in real life.”

When Woellert isn’t on duty, he enjoys his time off. “When I get time off, especially on some weekends, I do enjoy some activities that nonmilitary people do, believe it or not.” Woellert says he has a couple of motorcycles that he enjoys riding. He also likes to fish and hunt sometimes, but doesn’t get to do it often.

According to www.navy.mil the mission of the United States Navy is “to maintain, train and equip combat-ready Naval forces capable of winning wars, deterring aggression and maintain freedom of the seas. As of July 2, 2013 the U.S. Navy personnel consists of 319,950 active duty members and as of May 2013 109,686 ready reserve members. On June 25, 2013 there were 4,646 reserves mobilized.

The U.S. Navy has a total of 286 ships, 94 of which are deployed and 24 of which are underway for local operations and training. The Navy also has more than 3,700 operational aircrafts.

Woellert suggests advice to anyone thinking about joining the Navy or another branch of the military, saying, “Take advantage of the opportunity. It’s totally worth it.”

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