Returning To Service
by U.S. Navy Seaman Apprentice Travis Decker
June 14, 2019
She didn’t have definite plans to go back to active duty after being in the reserves; but for this chief, it was her clients that inspired her to go back to a community she loved.
U.S. Navy Chief Aviation Ordinanceman Krystal Peck poses with a U.S. Flag while during a tour in Iraq on an undisclosed date. (Photo courtesy of AOC Krystal Peck)
A San Francisco native, Chief Aviation Ordinanceman Krystal Peck spent 10 years as an active duty AO before deciding to join the reserves. She wanted to put down some roots, start a family and finish her education.
Shortly, after the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001 ... Peck decided to join the Navy. And in February of 2002, she was in bootcamp at Recruit Training Command, in Great Lakes, Illinois. And since then she has completed deployments with United States European Command, Pacific Command and in Iraq.
As Peck grew so did her goals and with that the hard decision to leave active duty, but she didn’t want to stop serving her country so she joined the reserves. She put down roots in Gladwin County in central Michigan; finished her bachelor’s degree in Integrated Leadership with a Military Concentration, from Central Michigan University and a Master’s degree in Military Psychology from Adler University, and started a family.
But after five years she yearned to go back to a community she missed and finish her naval career in the active component. There was one other deciding factor that pushed her decision to go back active duty even more; the veterans she helped as the Director of Veteran Affairs in Gladwin County, Mich. It was their tales service and heroism had profound impact.
“My clients were a factor of why I chose to come back active duty,” said Peck. “Their stories were inspiring and their advice was all the same, ‘stay as long as you can, stay out of the crosshairs and continue our country's legacy,” explained Peck. “I had clients from World War II who stormed the shores of Normandy, Atomic Vets who were present during the first nuclear detonation and an Operation Enduring Freedom veteran who supported Operation Neptune Spear, which is the raid that led to Bin Laden's demise. I absolutely love veterans and war stories.”
In 2017, the opportunity to go back to active duty presented itself. After a long talk with her family, she put in an reserve-to-active duty package, spoke with the enlisted community manager and within two months she was back to serving her country in the active duty component, and within a year she received orders to the amphibious assault ship USS Bataan (LHD 5).
In August 2018, Peck reported to the Bataan to as a chief in Weapons department leading and mentoring 30 Sailors to mission readiness and success.
“My mentorship style is eclectic,” says Peck. “All Sailors are different, so I acclimatize to a style that is most effective to their individual growth. Life is a process of constant self-improvement, so mentoring Sailors teaches me things about myself, too.”
While mentoring junior Sailors brings challenges, being a female and mother in the military brings its own.
“Being a woman in the military poses unique challenges and being a mom in the military is even more challenging,” said Peck. “As parents, we are just trying to leave the world in a better place for our kid, which is a central tenet of service. Mary Edwards Walker, the first and only female Medal of Honor recipient said, ‘Let the generations know, that women in uniform also guaranteed their freedom.’ I'm proud to serve with these women.”
Bataan has approximately 300 women serving onboard and Peck always finds a way to help Sailors, whether it is on the suicide prevention team, bringing a cheerful greeting on the deckplates, or always trying to uplift her fellow female Sailors with a saying.
“My fellow LHDiva's- your grind is precious. Embrace and celebrate your womanhood.”