“It is completely overwhelming once you step on a ship. Everything is giant,
it is all grey and there are people everywhere,” remarked Marianne De Silva an
Aviation Electrician’s Mate 2nd Class with Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 4
stationed at Naval Air Station North Island in Coronado, California, about life
aboard an aircraft carrier.
“Eventually you fall into a groove and it becomes the same day over and over.”
Having just returned from deployment on June 23rd 2017, De Silva also remarked
that coming home and stepping off of the ship was nearly as big of an adjustment
as stepping on.
July 8, 2017 - Aviation Electrician's Mate 2nd Class Marianne
DeSilva, assigned to Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 4 (HSC-4),and
part of the Carl Vinson Strike Group... Left - On the dock in front of the
USS Carl Vinson carrier
after recently returning home from a 5-month long deployment ...
Right - In front of her squadron's logo that is used the symbolize
The Black Knights. HSC-4 primarily assists in search and rescue and
cargo loading missions as a part of the Carl Vinson Strike Group. (Image
created by USA Patriotism! from U.S.
Navy photos by Petty Officer 2nd Class Amanda Hayes)
“When you do reach land…well, it’s different,” said De Silva pausing
momentarily. “You’re not really used to seeing bright colors like green. You’re
used to seeing grey and various shades of blue.”
Turning around at the table where she is seated, De Silva narrows her eyes while
peering at the carrier that is towering in the distance.
“You’re used to hearing whistles all the time,” she continues, “and people
talking over a loud speaker. So once you get into a hotel or you’re back at
home…the silence is almost deafening. That’s one thing you have to readjust to
and that’s kind of difficult.”
Putting her back to the ship she squints as she faces the sun and begins again.
“Having your own personal space and not having to share your living space;
that’s the hardest,” she begins as she recalls a story from deployment.
“I had to fly to Osan, South Korea overnight to fix one of our helicopters that
was having engine trouble. As soon as we got to the hotel I was given my only
room as one of the only females there,” said De Silva. “ I stood in my hotel
room for twenty minutes not knowing what to do. I just stood there in my uniform
staring off into space because I didn’t know what to do. I hadn’t had this much
freedom in close to 70 days and I was lost. That’s when I looked at my watched
and realized that I had just been standing there.”
De Silva said that in order to adjust to being in the hotel room and in her own
personal space again that she had to start slow by first telling herself that
take off her boots, it was alright to sit down on the hotel bed and that she
didn’t just have to stand there waiting for an order or a whistle to tell her
what it was time to do.
Now thankful to be back on solid ground and away from a place where cacophonies
of catapult shots fill the air and personal space is none existent, De Silva had
this to say to help others imagine how hard it can be to assimilate to life
during and post deployment. “Think of your most stressful moment, multiply it by
10 and take away all creature comforts. Now build your life around that.”
By U.S. Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Amanda Hayes
Comment on this article