Antigo native serving aboard one of the world’s largest warships
For the Antigo Times
A 2010 Antigo High School graduate and Antigo native is serving on one of the world’s largest warships, USS Carl Vinson.
Petty Officer 2nd Class Cody Chilcher is a gunner’s mate serving aboard the San-Diego based ship, the third Nimitz-class nuclear-powered aircraft carrier and one of only 11 operational aircraft carriers in the Navy today.
As a gunner’s mate, Chilcher is responsible for working in the training security department and maintaining qualifications and standards for security related duties for the ship.
Sailors’ jobs are highly varied aboard Vinson. Approximately 3,000 men and women make up the ship’s company, and they keep all parts of the aircraft carrier running. They do everything from preparing meals to handling weaponry and maintaining the nuclear reactors. Additionally, another 2,000 sailors comprise the air wing. These are the people who fly and maintain the aircraft embarked aboard the ship.
Chilcher has carried lessons learned from his hometown into his military service.
“While growing up my family instilled a good work ethic, morals and values that I use on a daily basis serving in the Navy,” he said. “I try to pass this on to my fellow Sailors because this builds a good work ethic and strengthens camaraderie.”
Vinson, like each of the Navy’s aircraft carriers, is designed for a 50-year service life. When the air wing is embarked, the ship carries more than 60 attack fighter jets, helicopters and other aircraft, all of which take off from and land aboard the carrier at sea.
Powerful catapults slingshot the aircraft off the bow of the ship, and those planes land upon their return to the aircraft carrier by snagging a steel cable with an arresting hook that protrudes from the rear of the aircraft. All of this makes Vinson a self-contained mobile airport and strike platform, often the first response to a global crisis because of an aircraft carrier’s ability to operate freely in international waters anywhere on the world’s oceans.
The ship was commissioned in 1982 and named after former Georgia Congressman, Carl Vinson. A member of the United States House of Representatives for 50 years, he was, for 29 years, the Chairman of the House Naval Affairs and Armed Services Committee. Vinson was the principal sponsor of the so-called “Vinson Acts,” culminating in the Two-Ocean Navy Act of 1940, which provided for the massive naval shipbuilding effort in World War II.
“Carl Vinson was a visionary congressman,” said Capt. Douglas Verissimo, commanding officer of USS Carl Vinson. “His support led to a stronger Navy that was pivotal in winning World War II and the Cold War. Our Sailors embody his commitment to service and bring to life a warship that has been an enduring asset to America’s defense for more than 35 years.”
Chilcher has military ties with family members who have previously served and is honored to carry on the family tradition.
“My grandfather served in the Navy for four years during the Korean War as a radioman,” he said. “I have the opportunity to continue to serve my country and make my family proud just as he did.”
Chilcher’s proudest accomplishment was being selected as the Sailor of the Quarter and nominated as Sailor of the Year for 2017.
“It goes back to what my parents had taught me while I was living with them at home,” he added. “A good work ethic combined with morals and discipline will help me reach achievements in life.”
As a member of one of the U.S. Navy’s most relied upon assets, Chilcher and other Vinson sailors know they are part of a legacy that will last beyond their lifetimes.
“The Navy core values of honor, courage and commitment is meaningful to me because adhering to these values makes us the greatest Navy and nation in the world,” said Chilcher.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Original story by Rick Burke, Navy Office of Community Outreach, provided for the Antigo Times.