STEPHEN HEMELT — Port Arthur man talks life from onboard Navy carrier in Arabian Sea
Published 12:18 am Friday, February 14, 2020
The Port Arthur News received a pretty neat photograph in late January from the United States Navy.
The picture showed Port Arthur’s own Allen Jackson grilling chicken in the galley aboard aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman. The photo was taken Jan. 23 when the Truman was in the Arabian Sea.
According to information provided by the Navy, the Harry S. Truman Carrier Strike Group is deployed to the U.S. 5th Fleet in support of naval operations to ensure maritime stability and security in the Central Region, connecting the Mediterranean Sea and Pacific Ocean through the western Indian Ocean and three strategic choke points.
It was cool knowing one of our community neighbors was doing his part to help in that effort, but there were so many questions about the man in the picture — Allen Jackson.
Outside of the information above, all the Navy had supplied was the fact that Jackson is classified as Culinary Specialist 3rd Class.
In order to better share Jackson’s story with our readers, many of whom are his friends and family, The News requested help with some basic questions.
Boy, did the Navy, and more specifically, Allen Jackson, deliver. The magic of email and some dedicated intermediaries helped deliver Jackson’s message straight from the Arabian Sea to Jefferson County.
What does Jackson miss most about Port Arthur?
“I miss being home with my mother for holidays, birthdays and special occasions,” he said.
I’m a mama’s boy, always have been. His response felt natural.
Jackson’s path to the military began when his cousin joined and told him of all the interesting places he had visited. Jackson also wanted access to the educational opportunities the military offers.
“I was intrigued to see as much of the world as possible,” he said. “I figured the world’s greatest navy would provide both of these opportunities for me.”
The best part of his experiences so far center on the friends made and camaraderie built amongst those he serves with.
“You develop a unique bond and everlasting friendship with people from all walks of life and with different cultural backgrounds,” Jackson said. “I feel as if I belong to something so much bigger, and it gives me a sense of pride to know I am protecting the greatest nation.”
Jackson said he never anticipated meeting so many different people, saying one day he is in the mess hall talking to someone who grew up surfing in Southern California and the next day he meets someone who grew up in Tennessee and hiked the Smoky Mountains.
The opportunity to grow and learn different jobs also surprised him.
“The Truman is a floating city with people that do medical, cut hair, launch aircraft, run a TV studio and just about any job you find on Main Street USA,” Jackson said. “Everyone is eager to show you their job and how well they perform it.”
When I asked what he wants friends and family in Port Arthur to know about his journey, Jackson responded with an answer to inspire.
“I have changed my life for the better and will continue to going forward and improve,” he said. “I have only begun my journey, and there is no end in sight of the opportunities that are ahead of me.”
The Port Arthur News greatly benefited from our interaction with Allen Jackson and we wish him well and safety as he serves our Nation while also charting his own path to growth and happiness.
Stephen Hemelt is publisher of The Port Arthur News. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 409-721-2445.