Merced native proudly serves aboard USS Iwo Jima
By Bryan Niegel
Navy Community Outreach
A Merced native is serving aboard USS Iwo Jima, a U.S. Navy Wasp class amphibious assault ship.
Petty Officer 1st Class Francisco Rodriguez-Vega is a Merced High School graduate. Today Rodriguez-Vega serves as an aviation boatswain’s mate.
Aviation boatswain’s mates supervise the movement of naval aircraft and perform rescue duties when necessary. In this role, responsibilities include assisting with the launch and recovery of aircraft, as well as spotting and securing aircraft and equipment.
Rodriguez-Vega joined the Navy 12 year ago for the love of this country.
“I joined the Navy to better myself and give my family a better life,” said Rodriguez-Vega. “I wanted job stability and to continue my college education and the Navy offered that.”
According to Rodriguez-Vega, the values required to succeed in the military are similar to those found in Merced.
“Never have to give up on goals,” Rodriguez-Vega. “If you work hard in life you will accomplish great things.”
Iwo Jima is the seventh Wasp-class amphibious assault ship and the second ship in the U.S. Navy to bear that name. The ship was named for the Battle of Iwo Jima of World War II.
According to Navy officials, amphibious assault ships are designed to deliver U.S. Marines and their equipment where they are needed to support a variety of missions ranging from amphibious assaults to humanitarian relief efforts. Designed to be versatile, the ship has the option of simultaneously using helicopters, Harrier jets, and Landing Craft Air Cushioned, as well as conventional landing craft and assault vehicles in various combinations.
Rodriguez-Vega’s favorite part of working in the Navy is working with a diverse team.
“This command gives the opportunity to better ourselves,” said Rodriguez-Vega. “I enjoy working in this diverse environment, where we all work together to accomplish our mission.”
Though there are many opportunities for sailors to earn recognition in their command, community and careers, Rodriguez-Vega is most proud of achieving personal goals.
“I’m most proud being able to travel the world, complete my associate’s degree, and to purchase my family home,” said Rodriguez-Vega.
As a member of the U.S. Navy, Rodriguez-Vega, as well as other sailors, know they are a part of a service tradition providing unforgettable experiences through leadership development, world affairs and humanitarian assistance. Their efforts will have a lasting effect around the globe and for generations of sailors who will follow.
“Serving in the Navy, being able to accomplish my job and be a part of the greatest naval force in the world gives me since of pride,” added Rodriguez-Vega.