Petty Officer 3rd Class Will Sheley, a native of Rockford, is serving aboard the self-contained mobile airport, USS Dwight D. Eisenhower.

By Mass Communications Specialist 1st Class Beverly Taylor


Petty Officer 3rd Class Will Sheley, a native of Rockford, Illinois, is one of more than 5,000 sailors serving aboard the self-contained mobile airport, USS Dwight D. Eisenhower.

Sheley graduated in 2016 from Guilford High School.
The skills and values needed to succeed in the Navy are similar to those found in Rockford.

“Growing up in Rockford taught me to make something out of my life and to put my own stamp on the world,” said Sheley.

“They taught me to work hard to get the most out of life and always make a presence.”
Sheley joined the Navy six years ago. Today, Sheley serves as a master-at-arms.
“I joined the Navy to find a positive outlet to live my life in a way that is also fulfilling to me,” said Sheley. “I was also super influenced by my family. I had a grandfather in the Army in Vietnam and another grandfather who was an officer in the Air Force during the Korean War,” said Sheley. “I also had a great-grandfather in the Marines in World War II. They all lived to have full lives and I found that I could really look up to that. We swap military stories all the time and it is really awesome.”
Aircraft carriers are the centerpiece of America’s Naval forces. For more than 100 years, they have projected power, sustained sea control, bolstered deterrence, provided humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, and maintained enduring commitments worldwide.

According to Navy officials, aircraft carriers are versatile and have unique mission capabilities that make them a more strategic asset for the Navy than fixed-site bases. They are often the first response in a global crisis because of their ability to operate freely in international waters anywhere in the world. In addition, no other weapon system can deploy and operate forward with a full-sized, nuclear-powered aircraft carrier’s speed, endurance, agility and the combat capability of its air wing.
“Mighty IKE” is a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier named for Dwight D. Eisenhower, one of only four five-star U.S. Army generals and a hero of World War II who would later serve as the 34th president of the United States. Homeported in Norfolk, Virginia, the carrier is longer than three football fields at 1,092 feet. The ship is 252 feet wide and weighs more than 100,000 tons.

This year commemorates 50 years of women flying in the U.S. Navy. In 1973, the first eight women began flight school in Pensacola, Florida. Six of them, known as “The First Six,” earned their “Wings of Gold” one year later. Over the past 50 years, the Navy has expanded its roles for women to lead and serve globally, and today women aviators project power from the sea in every type of Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard aircraft. According to Navy officials, our nation and our Navy are stronger because of their service.
Serving in the Navy means Sheley is part of a team that is taking on new importance in America’s focus on rebuilding military readiness, strengthening alliances and reforming business practices in support of the National Defense Strategy.

“The Navy really impacts national defense when we show the world that we are the big dogs,” said Sheley. “Our presence allows civilians to worry just a little less and to live their own dreams and put their own stamp on the world.”

With 90 percent of global commerce traveling by sea and access to the internet relying on the security of undersea fiber optic cables, Navy officials continue to emphasize that the prosperity of the United States is directly linked to trained sailors and a strong Navy.

Sheley has many opportunities to achieve accomplishments during military service.
“It was a big accomplishment for me when I got a Flag Letter of Commendation from a rear admiral,” said Sheley. “When the USS George Washington suffered from sailors who had committed suicide, I worked over there for about a month to help out by taking up some shifts in security. But more than that, I was able to help bring back the positive attitude and show them some encouragement.”
As Sheley and other sailors continue to train and perform missions, they take pride in serving their country in the U.S. Navy.

“It gives me a sense of pride to serve in the Navy,” said Sheley. “There are a lot of avenues that allow us to grow and find out what we want out of this world.”
Sheley is grateful to others for helping make a Navy career possible.

“I definitely want to thank my mom but also my whole family including my brother, sister and stepdad,” added Sheley.

“We all went through a lot together and we didn’t fall into a loop of getting stuck in the city. They kept me on a straight and narrow path and showed me that I can change the direction of my life.”

“Rockford, this is for you!” said Sheley.

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