Logan native supports critical Navy mission half a world away

SASEBO, Japan – Petty Officer 2nd Class Tommi Kitchens, a native of Logan, Utah, wanted to be in law enforcement while serving in the Navy. He talked to a recruiter one day and they had a spot open for him to do law enforcement.

Now, 10 years later and half a world away, Kitchens serves with Fleet Activities Sasebo, supporting the Navy’s mission one of the world’s busiest maritime regions as part of U.S. 7th Fleet.

“It’s a beautiful place here in Japan, the scenery is nice,” said Kitchens. “The people are very polite and there’s a deep culture that is just so interesting.”

Kitchens, a 2007 graduate of Logan High School, is a master-at-arms forward-deployed to the installation in Sasebo, Japan, the second-largest city in Nagasaki Prefecture.

“I do physical security and provide law enforcement for the base,” said Kitchens.

Kitchens credits success in the Navy to many of the lessons learned in Logan.

One thing that my dad taught me that made a difference at a young age was if the job needs to get done, just get it done,” said Kitchens. “That’s the way it is, doesn’t matter what the job is, just get it done and don’t complain.”

U.S. 7th Fleet spans more than 124 million square kilometers, stretching from the International Date Line to the India/Pakistan border; and from the Kuril Islands in the North to the Antarctic in the South. U.S. 7th Fleet’s area of operations encompasses 36 maritime countries and 50 percent of the world’s population with between 50-70 U.S. ships and submarines, 140 aircraft, and approximately 20,000 sailors.

“Seventh Fleet is specific to the location of where we are in the world,” said Kitchens. “There’s more things going on here than a lot of other areas of the world, so it’s an experience.”

With more than 50 percent of the world’s shipping tonnage and a third of the world’s crude oil passing through the region, the United States has historic and enduring interests in this part of the world. The Navy’s presence in Sasebo is part of that long-standing commitment.

“The Navy is forward-deployed to provide security and strengthen relationships in a free and open Indo-Pacific. It’s not just the ships and aircraft that have shown up to prevent conflict and promote peace,” said Vice Adm. Phil Sawyer, commander, U.S. 7th Fleet. “It is, and will continue to be our people who define the role our Navy plays around the world. People who’ve made a choice, and have the will and strength of character to make a difference.”

Fleet Activities Sasebo’s mission is to enable forward-deployed U.S. and allied naval forces while providing superior support to their families.

Serving in the Navy means Kitchens 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.

A key element of the Navy the nation needs is tied to the fact that America is a maritime nation, and that the nation’s prosperity is tied to the ability to operate freely on the world’s oceans. More than 70 percent of the Earth’s surface is covered by water; 80 percent of the world’s population lives close to a coast; and 90 percent of all global trade by volume travels by sea.

“Our priorities center on people, capabilities and processes, and will be achieved by our focus on speed, value, results and partnerships,” said Secretary of the Navy Richard V. Spencer. “Readiness, lethality and modernization are the requirements driving these priorities.”

There are many ways for sailors to earn distinction in their command, community, and career. Kitchens is most proud of being a part of the training department for his department.

“At my previous jobs I had struggles with being underappreciated,” said Kitchens. “When I got here and I was moved into the training department I felt like I was actually doing something important. I feel like I’m contributing to helping the fleet by preparing our officers and making sure they are trained.”

As a member of one of the U.S. Navy’s most relied upon assets, Kitchens and other sailors know they are part of a legacy that will last beyond their lifetimes, contributing to the Navy the nation needs.

“I want to be a part of something bigger than myself as well as one of the few protecting our country,” said Kitchens. “I took an oath to defend the Constitution and I take it seriously.”

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