ON BOARD USS BULKELEY - "The war on terror is an ongoing priority for our nation. We will take every measure that is necessary to protect the American people from terrorist groups and outlaw regimes. The world depends on America's strength and purpose and we will meet our responsibilities for peace," said President Bush during a recent radio address to the nation.
Petty Officer 2nd Class Michael E. Axton, stationed on board the guided missile destroyer USS Bulkeley, is one of the many men and women who have sworn to serve and protect fellow Americans.
Regardless of the reasons sailors join the Navy, many of today's sailors feel an increased sense of duty in light of the challenges faced by our nation.
"I joined the military to travel, develop discipline and to continue my education," said Axton, son of Bernard Axton of Evans and Patricia Parton of Lincolnton. "My father commissioned the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise in 1961. It was my father's and uncle's sea stories that inspired me to join the Navy."
The USS Bulkeley became a member of the Norfolk, Va. waterfront last year after the ship's commissioning in December 2001. As the crew of a newly commissioned ship, sailors on board are presented with unique opportunities.
"I had the privilege to commission the ship in New York City three months after the anniversary of Sept. 11," said Axton. "I was honored with the opportunity to display the Navy's commitment to the service and protection of fellow Americans. The command played a small part in helping heal New York through our presence and participation in community events."
Bulkeley's primary mission is anti-surface, anti-air and anti-submarine warfare. Within a carrier battle group, the destroyer provides protection to other battle group assets. During an amphibious assault, the ship's weapons help protect against enemy force at sea and ashore. The addition of the MK-41 vertical launch system has greatly expanded the role of the destroyer in strike warfare.
"The Aegis guided missile destroyer is designed to protect the aircraft carrier and battle group. Our ship plays an integral part in providing the support to destroy multiple enemy targets," said Axton, a 1991 graduate of Evans High School. "We are high-tech, quick, deadly and proudly dedicated to the removal of enemies who threaten our way of life."
Axton joined the Navy in February 1993 and performs duties as an electronics technician on board the Bulkeley.
"I'm responsible for maintaining and repairing communications equipment. I help ensure the transmission and receipt of vital tactical voice and data information," said Axton. "I enjoy the scenery at sea and find traveling to new places fascinating."
The commissioning of the USS Bulkeley closely followed the development of the nation's Homeland Security Agency.
"History will judge harshly those who saw this coming danger but failed to act. In the new world we have entered, the only path to peace and security is the path of action," said President Bush during remarks he made on security strategy in September 2002.
Trained and ready, Axton and his fellow shipmates on board the USS Bulkeley will stand watch on the deckplates at home and abroad to ensure peace for fellow Americans.
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