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Embracing The Navy, Paying It Forward
by U.S. Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Sean Stafford
September 12, 2021

U.S. Navy Aviation Boatswain’s Mate (Fuel) 1st Class Joseph Chinedu grew up in the small city of Kaduna, Nigeria. Then he moved to Lagos, Nigeria’s largest city, when he was 17 years old before ultimately venturing out on his own to attend college at R.D. National College in Mumbai, India.

August 18, 2021 - U.S. Navy Aviation Boatswain’s Mate (Fuel) 1st Class Joseph Chinedu, a recruiter assigned to Navy Talent Acquisition Group Jacksonville, Florida grew up in the small city of Kaduna, Nigeria. (U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Sean Stafford)
August 18, 2021 - U.S. Navy Aviation Boatswain’s Mate (Fuel) 1st Class Joseph Chinedu, a recruiter assigned to Navy Talent Acquisition Group Jacksonville, Florida grew up in the small city of Kaduna, Nigeria. (U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Sean Stafford)

It had always been a dream of his to eventually move to the United States, which was finally realized when he was selected for the Diversity Visa Program, also known as the “green card lottery”. The program is a United States government lottery program for receiving a United States Permanent Resident Card.

“When I applied for the program and was selected, I was very excited,” said Chinedu. “Once I was accepted, my plan was to move to the U.S. to become a soccer coach which is a huge passion of mine. This was my primary goal when moving to the States; my secondary idea was to possibly work on aircraft.”

After making the move to the U.S., Chinedu ended up in Colorado Springs, Colorado, where he was working odd jobs and applying to be a coach at soccer academies in the state. Unfortunately for him, none of them had any opportunities available at that time. After about six months and a bit frustrated with not meeting his goal, he then planned to further his education and start looking at aeronautical colleges in Georgia.

“Before I applied to college, a friend told me about the military,” said Chinedu. “I went into a recruiting office and spoke with a recruiter telling him what I was looking to do and wanted to accomplish.”

Chinedu had a tough choice between the Air Force and the Navy. Chinedu ultimately chose the Navy over the Air force because of the opportunity to travel around the world.

“After seeing what the Navy had to offer, I decided I was going to enlist to achieve the goal I had set for myself. After boot camp and A-school, I received orders to the USS Iwo Jima (LHD 7) for five years out of Naval Station Mayport, Florida,” said Chinedu. “My experience on Iwo Jima was phenomenal! I was able to accomplish a lot with my time there. For instance, I was able to earn my citizenship, which was a great accomplishment for me. What I really enjoyed was the people, mentors and most importantly, the leadership taught me everything I needed to know to be successful in the Navy.”

Chinedu deployed twice with Iwo Jima, once in 2015 and again in 2018.

“My first deployment was for seven months. We were able to visit so many countries. Some of my favorites were Israel, Spain, Italy, Iceland and Norway,” said Chinedu. “I was able to save the most money I have ever had in my life at that time. I came home with more than $24,000 on that deployment on top of the fact that I was able to visit all the wonderful places at no out-of-pocket cost. It was truly amazing to me.”

In his eyes, the Navy gave him the ability to travel and visit different countries, and if it were not for being in the Navy, he probably would have never had the chance to see such wonderful places.

As an aviation boatswain’s mate in the fuel division, he worked on the flight deck fueling aircraft and below deck he helped manage fuel systems. Chinedu said he would not trade that experience for anything; it is something that he would do over and over again.

“What the Navy has done for me and my family cannot be quantified,” said Chinedu. “It gave me financial stability and enabled me to buy a house and provide health care for my wife and daughter.”

One morning Chinedu arrived to work to find out from his lead petty officer that he had been selected for recruiting duty. At first, he did not want to be a recruiter. He had not even given it much thought. At that time, he did not even realize he was in his window for orders. Surprised by the news and with many questions, he went to his leadership for advice. After speaking with his divisional master chief, he realized that having orders to be a recruiter was not a bad deal and decided as he always did to put his best effort into his new job.

He started recruiting in August 2019 at Navy Talent Acquisition Group (NTAG) Jacksonville and ended up at Navy Recruiting Station West Jacksonville.

“Since I’ve been here, I have been able to accomplish a lot. I’ve had the chance to change many lives, my wife and I had our first child, and I bought my first house,” said Chinedu. “I was able to complete an associate’s degree in natural science through Excelsior College, and once I finish two more classes, I’ll have my bachelor’s degree in natural science.”

Recruiting can be challenging meeting deadlines, balancing work and personal life with a family as well as going to school. To not become overwhelmed Chinedu makes it a habit to always stay focused on the mission by having a set plan to help him navigate the day-to-day challenges of recruiting.

Chinedu takes his recruiting seriously. To him, the whole purpose of the job is to ensure the fleet is manned with the best and brightest Sailors. That has been the goal his entire time he has been recruiting. That’s why this job is so important to him. By being successful as a recruiter, he feels that he has contributed back to the Navy that has given him so much.

“The most rewarding part about being a recruiter is mentoring future Sailors and realizing that I have contributed in making them who they are and the Sailor that they will become,” said Chinedu. “For me it is one of the most rewarding experiences to meet with someone that may not have found their direction in life and you get to help guide them to making life-changing decisions that lead to limitless opportunities that give them a sense of direction and purpose.”

Chinedu has made every goal set for himself to date and looks forward to finishing his bachelor’s degree and leaving recruiting on a positive note.

“I’ve done many types of job from coaching soccer to being a truck driver to countless others,” said Chinedu. “I can say with certainty that joining the Navy has brought me the most satisfaction and has been the best decision I have ever made for myself and I look forward to the continued opportunity to pay it forward.”

Navy Recruiting Command consists of a command headquarters, three Navy Recruiting Regions, 26 NTAGs and 64 Talent Acquisition Onboarding Centers that serve more than 1,000 recruiting stations around the world. Their mission is to attract the highest quality candidates to assure the ongoing success of America’s Navy.

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