Permian Graduate Makes History, Serving Aboard First-Of-Its-Class Naval Ship

Permian Graduate Makes History, Serving Aboard First-Of-Its-Class Naval Ship
By Alicia Neaves
NewsWest 9

ODESSA - A Permian graduate is making history in the Navy. He is serving aboard the first ship of its kind.

20-year-old Raul Garcia Villavicencio is part of a carefully selected group serving aboard the assault ship USS America in Pascagoula, Mississippi. When asked his personal opinion on why he was chosen, he responded modestly, and simply said, "It was luck".

The soon-to-be USS America is housing one of our own from West Texas. Navy Airman Raul Garcia Villavicencio is making history.

"There's many ships in the fleet that have aircraft in it, so I could easily be in any other one. So, really I think it was luck that I was put on this ship," Garcia Villavicencio said.

The amphibious assault ship America is the first of its kind. Garcia Villavicencio is a part of the commissioning crew in charge of bringing this first ship of it's class to life.

"My job will be to direct the aircraft to where they need to be in order for them to be able to take off properly without any incidents. Also if there is any fire, which I hope there's not, we will be the ones putting it out," Garcia Villavicencio said.

Currently housed in Pascagoula, Mississippi, this is the fourth navy ship to be named "America". It offers more room for aircraft and increased aviation fuel capacity. America will be able to put marines ashore for combat operations, launch air strikes and provide disaster relief. Garcia Villavicencio is also a hangar bay emergency scene leader. A position normally reserved for seasoned officers.

"If you work hard enough, it doesn't matter your age. People will see beyond age and will actually look at effort and quality of work. To me, I think that's a good thing," Garcia Villavicencio said.

His advice to recent graduates who are considering a career in the military? Do what you love.

"Follow what you like to do. If you like what you're doing, it's always going to be fun. There's no point in doing something that you don't like, so as long as you're doing something that you like, and you're going to do it at your best, that's when things are going to be good," Garcia Villavicencio said.

In five years, Garcia Villavicencio hopes to continue his climb up the ranks. He credits where he is now to his family. He says without them raising him the way they did, he would never be doing such great things.