A Racine, Wisconsin, native serves at Naval Air Station (NAS) Jacksonville located in Jacksonville, Florida.
Petty Officer 1st Class Derek Olsen joined the Navy 11 years ago. Today, Olsen serves as a master-at-arms.
“I was upset about 9/11,” said Olsen. “When I was finally able to join, I checked out other branches, and the Navy kept calling me. I have a family who served in the Navy. My mother was in the Navy, my grandfather was in the Navy, and I have cousins who were in the Navy.”
Growing up in Racine, Olsen attended J.I. Case High School and graduated in 2010. Today, Olsen finds the values in Racine similar to those needed to succeed in the military.
“Always try to work hard and do your best,” said Olsen. “I try to be the most knowledgeable person about what I do and inspire others to be even better.”
These lessons have helped Olsen while serving at NAS Jacksonville.
On Oct. 15, 1940, NAS Jacksonville was officially commissioned and became the first part of the Jacksonville Navy complex that would also include NAS Cecil Field and Naval Station Mayport.
According to Navy officials, the mission of NAS Jacksonville is to enable warfighter readiness focused directly on support of operational units aboard the base and throughout the fleet.
NAS Jacksonville consists of more than 100 tenant commands and is one of the largest employers in the area. It contributes to the growth and prosperity of Northeast Florida with an economic impact of more than $2 billion annually.
Serving in the Navy means Olsen is part of a world that is taking on new importance in America’s focus on rebuilding military readiness, strengthening alliances, and reforming business practices in support of the National Defense Strategy.
“The Navy keeps waterways open,” said Olsen. “It’s a mobile force that’s always out there. We can park off the coast of a country and use our assets as needed.”
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.”
There are many accomplishments that come with military service, and Olsen is most proud of his deployment to Afghanistan in 2019.
“I was with my military working dog providing protection for the U.S. Army and U.S. Marines, along with military from other countries,” said Olsen.
As Olsen and other sailors continue to train, they take pride in serving their country in the United States Navy.
“Serving in the Navy is a job that I chose to do,” added Olsen. “It’s a service, and others provide service too like teachers, police, firefighters, and emergency medical services.”