by U.S. Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class Gitte Schirrmacher
September 8, 2018
The first American flag was sewn in June 1777 ... the symbol of a new country hell-bent on freedom. It has flown free above battlefields and aboard haze-grey Navy ships. This ensign has been seen as a symbol for the American dream by immigrants and natives alike. And much like the country we serve, the Navy and USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) have a diverse group from around the world ... a melting pot that’s always growing.
Harry S. Truman is home to people from all over the world who have traveled different roads to the U.S. and the Navy. Ship’s Serviceman 1st Class Ebenezer Hesseowusu and Senior Chief Boatswain’s Mate Edmundo A. Brantes both have taken unique paths to serve their country.
Brantes was born in Chile before his family immigrated to Florida in the early 1980s. He quickly adapted to the culture, and within a year and a half of living in the U.S. he learned English. He later joined the Navy in 1994 to make a change for himself.
“When I was 18 years old, I was running with a bad crowd,” said Brantes. “It was a mistake that ultimately changed my mind for the better. After that, I went to college because I embarrassed my parents and I embarrassed my last name. I wanted to better myself. Then I was in a rut and asking myself, ‘What am I doing here? What do I want to do?’ I never wanted my parents to wonder what their son was going to do next.
“The best outlet for me at the time was for me to join the military to do two things: One, make my own roots somewhere, and two, to not have my parents worry about their son anymore,” continued Brantes. “Best decision I’ve made in my life so far.”
Brantes stated that the Navy has given him the chance to build an honorable life for himself and his family.
“My daughter is in college right now because of the U.S. military,” said Brantes. “My daughter has good clothes, food, and shelter. All of the things she needs and wants, she has because of the Navy and the efforts I put forth here. There are no regrets.”
While Brantes immigrated as a child, Hesseowusu did so later in life.
He was a college student growing up in Ghana with his brothers and sisters. In 2000, he received news he won a U.S. visa lottery.
“My whole family did visa applications,” said Hesseowusu. “One day, I came home from college. I remember my dad telling me, ‘Hey, you won the lottery.’”
After receiving the news, Hesseowusu had roughly six months to prepare for a new home in a new country.
“It was mind boggling when I found out that I’d won the lottery,” said Hesseowusu. “Everybody filled out an application and turned it in. There were millions of people doing the same thing. It has to be some sort of miracle for me to have been picked.”
After immigrating in September 2000, Hesseowusu still had more than a year of college to complete.
“My uncle had suggested, ‘Hey, if you join the Navy, you can finish up school,’” added Hesseowusu. “That was my biggest motivator in joining the Navy.”
Hesseowusu the Navy in January 2001 and was naturalized as an American citizen in 2003. Since then, he has completed his Bachelors of Science in Psychology and began his Masters of Health Administration.
“I think I made the right choice. I’m glad I listened to my uncle and joined the Navy. I have never regretted that to this day. The Navy has done a lot for me that I never thought I would do for myself.”
Chief Warrant Officer Januari Cooper said that this level of diversity allows for a variety of perspectives. She stated that our differences allow us an opportunity to learn from each other.
“I want us to keep history, our heritage, and our traditions in mind,” said Cooper, the ship’s Command Managed Equal Opportunity (CMEO) Manager. “When it comes to diversity, we’ve been diverse from the day we started. No matter where they came from or who birthed them, the [U.S. military’s] main goal was to win the war and give us the freedoms we have today. Which carries us forward in our future to do the exact same thing: win the wars and keep us free.”
“This country is the greatest on this earth because if you’re willing to work hard and bust your tail, you’re going to be successful, no matter how you look at it,” said Brantes.