Canyon Country Native Serves Aboard USS Hershel “Woody” Williams

by | Mar 30, 2021 | Community

A Canyon Country, California, native is serving aboard USS Hershel “Woody” Williams, a U.S. Navy Lewis B. Puller-class expeditionary mobile base.
Petty Officer 3rd Class Jose Cortez is a 2008 Canyon High School graduate. Today, Cortez serves as a gunners mate.
“Gunners mates operate, perform and coordinate maintenance on guided missile launching systems, missile launching groups, guns, gun mounts, small arms, and torpedoes,” said Cortez. “We also supervise personnel in small arms qualifications; we inspect and direct repair of magazines and ammunition stowage space.”
Cortez joined the Navy four years ago for the opportunities the military offers.
“I joined the Navy to travel and further my education while serving my country,” Cortez said.
According to Cortez, the values required to succeed in the Navy are similar to those found in Canyon Country.
“Working at my hometown shooting range helped me with my transition to being a gunners mate,” Cortez said. “It taught me proper weapons handling, safety, maintenance and marksmanship.”
USS Hershel “Woody” Williams’ namesake was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor by President Truman for his actions at the Battle of Iwo Jima during World War II.
According to Navy officials, Lewis B. Puller-class expeditionary mobile bases, such as USS Hershel “Woody” Williams, are optimized to support a variety of maritime based missions, including Special Operations Force and Airborne Mine Counter Measures. The four-spot flight deck, mission deck and hangar, are designed around four core capabilities: aviation facilities, berthing, equipment staging support, and command and control assets.
With more than 90 percent of all trade traveling by sea, and 95 percent of the world’s international phone and internet traffic carried through fiber optic cables lying on the ocean floor, Navy officials continue to emphasize that the prosperity and security of the United States is directly linked to a strong and ready Navy.
According to Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Mike Gilday, four priorities will focus efforts on sailors, readiness, capabilities and capacity.
“For 245 years, in both calm and rough waters, our Navy has stood the watch to protect the homeland, preserve freedom of the seas, and defend our way of life,” said Gilday. “The decisions and investments we make this decade will set the maritime balance of power for the rest of this century. We can accept nothing less than success.”
Though there are many opportunities for sailors to earn recognition in their command, community and careers, Cortez is most proud of contributing to the team.
“The accomplishment I am most proud of is taking part in the commissioning of the USS Hershel ‘Woody’ Williams,” said Cortez.
“Our sailors remain the true source of our naval power,” said Gilday. “Mission one for every sailor remains a ready Navy, a Navy ready to compete today and a Navy ready to compete tomorrow. Together we will deliver the naval power the nation needs.”
As a member of the U.S. Navy, Cortez, as well as other sailors, know they are a part of a tradition providing the Navy the nation needs.
“To me, serving in the Navy means having a second family,” added Cortez. “It is the shared experiences: good and bad. This family is developed when we serve side-by-side, and these connections will stay with us for the rest of our lives.”



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