SAN DIEGO – A Norcross, Georgia, native and 2014 Norcross High School graduate is serving in the U.S. Navy aboard USS Russell.
Petty Officer 2nd Class Imani Deloatch is an operations specialist aboard the guided-missile destroyer operating out of San Diego.
A Navy operations specialist is responsible for monitoring radar and detecting aircraft or small boats in the vicinity of the ship.
"I was the only female wrestler in high school, and that taught me that if you want something you have to work really hard for it and never give up," Deloatch said. "It's a lesson I've brought into my Navy career."
More than 300 sailors serve aboard the ship, and their jobs are highly specialized, requiring both dedication and skill. The jobs range from maintaining engines to handling weaponry along with a multitude of other assignments that keep the ship mission-ready at all times, according to Navy officials.
"The success of our Surface Force ships is measured by our ability to provide Fleet Commanders with combat naval power at sea and to project that power ashore where and when it matters," said Vice Adm. Richard A. Brown, commander, Naval Surface Forces. "It's hard work to ready ships for combat operations at sea - it takes the talent of an entire crew working well together. I'm extremely proud of the each and every surface warrior's contributions to the Navy's enduring mission of protecting and defending America, at home and around the world."
A Navy destroyer is a multi-mission ship that can operate independently or as part of a larger group of ships at sea. The ship is equipped with Tomahawk missiles, torpedoes, guns and a Phalanx close-in weapons system.
Deloatch has military ties with family members who have previously served, and she is honored to carry on the family tradition.
"My mom was also an operations specialist in the Navy, and she was thrilled when she found out I was doing the same," Deloatch said.
Deloatch's proudest accomplishment was starting the 2nd Class Petty Officer Association onboard which now has over 20 members.
"The Navy has given me the tools and experience for me to be more independent and hone my leadership skills," said Deloatch.
As a member of one of the U.S. Navy's most relied-upon assets, Deloatch and other sailors know they are part of a legacy that will last beyond their lifetimes.
"I've wanted to join the Navy since I was in the 5th grade," said Deloatch. "I wouldn't want to do anything else."