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Sailor says life aboard Navy destroyer ‘like being with family’

The guided-missile destroyer USS Mustin (DDG 89) leads the guided-missile cruiser USS Antietam (CG 54), the guided-missile destroyer USS Curtis Wilbur (DDG 54) and the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force ship JS Fuyuzuki (DD 118) in a formation for the completion of MultiSail 2018. MultiSail is a bilateral training exercise improving interoperability between the U.S. and Japanese forces. This exercise benefits from realistic, shared training enhancing our ability to work together to confront any contingency. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Sarah Myers/Released)

Eleven months ago, Brittany Adams walked across the field at Rusk Eagle Stadium and received her high school diploma.

Today she is somewhere in the South China Sea – more than 7,000 miles away from her Maydelle home – serving as a Gunner’s Mate Seaman Recruit in the United States Navy, on board the USS Mustin (DDG 89).

The Mustin, an Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer, is conducting operations in support of security and stability in the Indio-Pacific and is assigned to Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 15.

Adams has only been serving on the Mustin for four months, but already she said that it feels like her home away from home, where she is surrounded by her new family.

The Mustin carries a crew of about 300 sailors, of which approximately 50 are women, according to Adams.

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“A week after I graduated in 2019, I was in (Naval Station) Great Lakes for Navy Bootcamp,” Adams said. “I got to the Mustin in December after I finished all my training.

“Having the family I have on board is something that I did not expect. I really didn’t think I would have a family on board, but I do with my division. I fit in really well with them. We all take care of each other,” she said

Ironically enough, the USS Mustin was named in honor of members of the Mustin family, who served in the Navy. Mustin’s crew members are often addressed as “Mustin Family,” and the family dynamic is a central part of life aboard the USS Mustin.

Among Adams’ local family members are mom and dad, Laura and Michael Goff, and brother, Alex Folkes.

Adams said that her mother deserves a lot of the credit in preparing her for service in the Navy.

“When I joined the Navy, I didn’t know anything about the service,” she said. “It really was a new experience. My mom was always really supportive of me joining the Navy, and she always tried to help me out however she could. Before boot camp she helped me study the material the recruiter gave me every night. So, once I got to (basic training), I was ready.”

Working as a Gunner’s Mate Seaman Recruit, Adams said that she is working in what she considers to be the ideal job.

“I help maintain the ship’s weapons and anti-terrorism safety,” she said. “Day-to-day I clean weapons (like the 50-cal.), count ammo and do gun shoots.

“I have shot every weapon on board except for the five-inch, which I am going to shoot the next time we fire it.”

Adams said that shooting guns as a child alongside her dad in East Texas gave her a solid foundation and an interest in ordinances.

“I love shooting,” Adams said. “I did it before I joined the Navy. Growing up, my dad and I would shoot a lot. The first day I got here I fit in with my division. It really matched my personality.”

Having grown up around more trees and land than water, Adams added that it was an adjustment to get used to life on the seas.

She said that she misses her friends in Yokosuka, Japan, (the USS Mustin’s home base) and in Texas.

As for the future, Adams that she plans on continuing her service in the Navy and eventually would like to attend college and become a veterinarian.

“I grew up working with horses, and spending time with horses is still one of my favorite things, but that made me want to work with animals one day,” Adams said.

“I don’t know where I want to go to school – I still have to figure that out – but the Navy is good for me now.”

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© 2020 the Jacksonville Daily Progress