Wilkes-Barre Native Serves Aboard a Floating Airport at Sea
NORFOLK, Va. – A Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, native and 2012 Grand Army Republic Junior Senior High School graduate is serving in the U.S. Navy aboard the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush.
Petty Officer 2nd Class Eric Olszyk is a hospital corpsman aboard the carrier operating out of the Navy’s largest base.
As a hospital corpsman, Olszyk is responsible for ensuring that the medical gear is always ready.
“My favorite part of this command is that I earned all three warfare qualifications here,” said Olszyk.
Named in honor of former President George H.W. Bush, the carrier is longer than three football fields, measuring nearly 1,100 feet. The ship, a true floating city, weighs more than 100,000 tons and has a flight deck that is 252 feet wide. Two nuclear reactors can push the ship through the water at more than 35 mph.
Powerful catapults slingshot the aircraft off the bow of the ship. The planes land aboard the carrier by snagging a steel cable with an arresting hook that protrudes from the rear of the aircraft.
As a sailor with numerous responsibilities, Olszyk learns about life at sea serving in the Navy and the importance of taking personal responsibility while leading others while still using lessons learned from their hometown.
“Growing up, I learned that using humor to get through tough times can be invaluable,” said Olszyk.
Sailors’ jobs are highly varied aboard the carrier. Approximately 3,200 men and women make up the ship's crew, which keeps all parts of the aircraft carrier running smoothly -- this includes everything from washing dishes and preparing meals to handling weaponry and maintaining the nuclear reactors. Another 2,500 men and women form the air wing responsible for flying and maintaining more than 70 aircraft aboard the ship.
George H.W. Bush, 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 70 attack jets, helicopters and other aircraft, all of which take off from and land aboard the carrier at sea.
All of this makes the George H.W. Bush a self-contained mobile airport and strike platform, and often the first response to a global crisis because of a carrier’s ability to operate freely in international waters anywhere on the world’s oceans.
“I am most proud of the leadership experience and the chances to work in the cross-command department training,” saidOlszyk.
As a member of one of the U.S. Navy’s most relied upon assets, Olszyk and other George H.W. Bush sailors know they are part of a legacy that will last beyond their lifetimes providing the Navy the nation needs.
"There have been lots of educational opportunities since I joined the Navy," added Olszyk.