Youngstown Native Serves Aboard Navy Warship in Norfolk

By Ensign Brittany Crocker, Navy Office of Community Outreach

NORFOLK, Va. – Petty Officer 2nd Class Keshawn Bray, a native of Youngstown, Ohio, serves aboard a U.S. Navy warship operating out of Norfolk, Virginia.

Bray joined the Navy eight years ago. Today, Bray serves as a culinary specialist aboard USS Mesa Verde.

“I joined the Navy to see the world outside my city,” said Bray. Growing up in Youngstown, Bray attended Cardinal Mooney High School and graduated in 2014.

Skills and values similar to those found in Youngstown are similar to those required to succeed in the military.

“I learned to be patient and vocal about things that don’t make sense,” said Bray. “I always ask questions to make sure I completely understand any job I’m on.”

These lessons have helped Bray while serving aboard USS Mesa Verde.

USS Mesa Verde is an amphibious transport dock. According to Navy officials, these types of warships embark, transport and land elements of a landing force for a variety of expeditionary warfare missions.

Because of their inherent capabilities, these ships have been and will continue to be called upon to support humanitarian and other contingency missions on short notice.

As a member of the Navy, Bray is part of a world-class organization focused on maintaining maritime dominance, strengthening partnerships, increasing competitive warfighting capabilities and sustaining combat-ready forces in support of the National Defense Strategy.

“The Navy protects the United States coastlines and the freedom of the seas for everyone,” said Bray.

With 90 percent of global commerce traveling by sea and access to the internet relying on the security of undersea fiber optic cables, Navy officials continue to emphasize that the prosperity of the United States is directly linked to trained sailors and a strong Navy.

“Our mission remains timeless – to provide our fellow citizens with nothing less than the very best Navy: fully combat ready at all times, focused on warfighting excellence, and committed to superior leadership at every single level,” said Adm. Mike Gilday, Chief of Naval Operations. “This is our calling. And I cannot imagine a calling more worthy.”

Bray and the sailors they serve with have many opportunities to achieve accomplishments during their military service.

“I’m proud of the work I did aboard the USNS Mercy during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Bray. “We were working with a lot of unknowns which was scary and challenging but the work was so important.”

As Bray and other sailors continue to train and perform missions, they take pride in serving their country in the United States Navy.

“To me, serving in the Navy means being a part of its rich history and contributing to it, which will set the tone for future sailors the way I’ve experienced it,” added Bray.

Bray is grateful to others for helping make a Navy career possible.

“I want to thank my mom, my family and my commands for their support during my Navy career,” added Bray.

Photo by Chief Petty Officer Terah Bryant, Navy Office of Community Outreach

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