Gretchen Sorensen decided to join the Navy because her father served during the Vietnam War. She enlisted when she was 18 and began boot camp Dec. 23, 1996 at Naval Station Great Lakes in Illinois. As she was from Florida, it was the most snow she had ever seen.
After three months of boot camp, Sorensen trained as a nuclear machinist’s mate. Then, she served aboard USS John F. Kennedy. She traveled to Greece where the ship was anchored and arrived July 21, 1997. Sorensen moved between several tasks. Eventually, she became an aerographer’s mate in charge of monitoring weather characteristics.
During her service, Sorensen traveled frequently. The USS Kennedy was on a Mediterranean deployment, which included two transits of the Suez Canal and four months spent in the Persian Gulf. The ship also took part in Operation Bright Star, a series of joint training exercises between the United States and Egypt. In 1998, the exercise focused on naval and amphibious warfare.
Sorensen said a fond memory was when she was in Bahrain around Thanksgiving. Her cousin lived in Bahrain and they went to a country club to have a family meal on Thanksgiving together. It felt like a little piece of home.
Sorensen finished her service Sept. 24, 2000. After being discharged, she decided to go to school. She became certified as an emergency medical technician to continue a career in health and safety.
More of her story is at http://memory.loc.gov/diglib/vhp/bib/loc.natlib.afc2001001.86350
Thank you for your service.
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Veterans History Project
This #VeteranOfTheDay profile was created with interviews submitted to the Veterans History Project. The project collects, preserves, and makes accessible the personal accounts of American war Veterans so that future generations may hear directly from Veterans and better understand the realities of war. Find out more at http://www.loc.gov/vets/.
Graphic artist: Austin Waters