Twin Officers Serve On USS George H.W. Bush
by U.S. Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class Bryan Valek
October 22, 2021
The crew aboard the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77) prepares to launch an F/A-18 Super Hornet aircraft off its deck during a recent flight deck certification. The Weapons Safety Officer inside the aircraft is Lt. Monica Shifflet, from Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 103.
The ship’s reactor plants deliver the steam required to launch a jet. One of the reactor officers on watch, Lt. Natalie Shifflet, closely monitors the steam build-up in one of the plants below decks. The catapult goes off and the aircraft is launched. Natalie’s plant just provided the power for Monica’s aircraft to become airborne.
The Shifflet twins, one assigned to Reactor Department aboard GHWB and one assigned to VFA-103 “Jolly Rogers,” a part of Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 7, are working together to get the ship and the airwing ready for deployment.
Then-Lt. j.g. Natalie Shifflet, left, currently a reactor officer assigned to the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77), and then-Lt. j.g. Monica Shifflet, currently a weapons officer assigned to Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 103, pose for a photograph together. (Photo courtesy of Lt. Natalie Shifflet - 2021)
“I suppose it all started when I was searching for colleges,” said Natalie. While applying to the Naval Academy, Natalie learned about the Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) program. She and her sister both applied to the program, and were accepted into the ROTC program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).
While attending MIT, Natalie majored in Nuclear Science and Engineering, and Monica majored in Materials Science and Engineering.
“Four years later, we were both graduating and commissioning in the U.S. Navy,” said Monica.
After their commissioning, the twins had very different paths ahead of them. Natalie was assigned to the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Gonzalez (DDG 66) for two years. Then, after completing her first sea tour, she went to Nuclear Power School and Nuclear Prototype in Goose Creek, South Carolina. Natalie was assigned to GHWB upon completion of the nuclear pipeline.
“I can’t believe I’ve only been here a year and seen how far the ship and crew have come since being in the yards,” said Natalie.
While Natalie was here for GHWB’s Docking Planned Incremental Availability Period and helped get the ship out of Norfolk Naval Shipyard, Monica was training to become a naval aviator.
After graduating and commissioning, Monica reported to Pensacola, Florida for flight training. After earning her wings of gold, she reported to a Naval Air Station Oceana-based Fleet Replacement Squadron (FRS), the last stop in the Naval Flight Officer training pipeline. After completing FRS, Monica was detailed to her first squadron.
“When I found out what squadron I was going to, I texted my sister and was like, ‘Hey! I got VFA-103,” said Monica.
“I was on duty, I had just gotten off watch and went to eat dinner in the wardroom when I saw her text,” said Natalie. “I just told a of couple people from my department ‘Guess what? My sister is coming to the ship,’ to which they instantly started cheering. That made me smile.”
As part of Team JACKPOT (CVN 77 and CVW-7), the twins started working towards the same mission. One supporting it from the sky, and one supporting from the belly of the ship. Being together to work towards similar goals, the twins could not help but reminisce on their childhood.
“Growing up with a twin was nice because you already had someone there, someone who shares the same hobbies and interests,” said Monica. “Little did we know we’d be sharing the same mission serving side-by-side in the U.S. Navy.”
The squadrons of CVW-7 are Strike Fighter Squadron 143 “Pukin’ Dogs,” Strike Fighter Squadron 103 “Jolly Rogers,” Strike Fighter Squadron 86 “Sidewinders,” Strike Fighter Squadron 136 “Knighthawks,” Electronic Attack Squadron 140 “Patriots,” Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron 121 “Bluetails,” Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 5 “Nightdippers,” Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron 46 “Grandmasters.”
GHWB provides the national command authority flexible, tailorable warfighting capability as the flagship of a carrier strike group that maintains maritime stability and security in order to ensure access, deter aggression and defend U.S., allied, and partner interests.
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