On dry land: Preparing for life after the Navy
Appeal Staff Writer
If you ask Amy Alotta about her six years in the U.S. Navy, she will talk about working long hours on the aircraft carriers and spending months at sea. She will happily point out the patches from her various deployments and make it seem like there is nothing much else to tell.
Yet the humble 25-year-old has garnered a lifetime’s worth of experiences serving the country she loves.
She enlisted in 1999 and was sent to the Persian Gulf to launch and retrieve aircraft in the Middle East. Since then she has served in Operation Enduring Freedom, Operation Iraqi Freedom and most recently was part of the first Navy provisional guard at the base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
Over the past six years she has spent time in Greece, Italy, United Arab Emirates, Australia, Japan, Malaysia, Turkey and numerous states.
“I’m kind of a God, country, family type of person and I wanted to serve my country,” said Alotta.
While Alotta’s decision to join was easy, telling her family was more difficult.
“My mom wasn’t too happy at first when she found out I was going into the Navy,” Alotta said.
Alotta’s mom, Mary, said, “When the recruiters would call I wouldn’t give her the messages. It’s hard to let your first one go, especially like that.”
While Alotta admits military life isn’t for everyone, she said it was good for her.
“It takes a special kind of person to be successful in the Navy,” said Alotta. “A carrier is like a giant floating city with 6,000 people and it gets crowded. There isn’t any privacy and you are constantly working.”
Alotta’s job is to help maintain and repair the equipment that recovers the aircraft landing on the carrier’s deck while working long shifts to help prevent accidents on the flight deck.
“It’s like a ballet on the flight deck but it’s very dangerous. They are launching and recovering planes at the same time plus moving planes all over the deck,” Alotta said. “Our schedules weren’t set and sometimes we wouldn’t sleep for 72 hours.”
Yet for all her time spent abroad, one of her most striking recollections happened closer to home.
“We went out for an ammo dump that was supposed to last four days and then Sept. 11 happened. We booked it up to New York and were launching air security for them for two weeks. You could see the skyline and smoke rising up,” Alotta said.
Alotta’s carrier, the USS George Washington, arrived in New York just four hours after the first tower was hit.
“Before 9/11 it was more relaxed and then after everyone was very tense and worried about what would happen and the security was heightened to the extreme,” said Alotta.
After six years on the sea, Alotta is scheduled to be discharged in January and will return to civilian life in Carson City. She has a job working at her dad, Joseph’s, company and has a wedding date set for spring of 2006.
“Coming back will be a relief because the Navy is so fast-paced. It will be nice to have a life again. You have a life in the Navy but it’s not your life; a sailor’s life is different from a civilian’s life,” said Alotta. “Until you join the military, you don’t know what hard work and sacrifice are.”
But, she adds, “It’s exciting being under the wing of an F-14, there’s nothing like it.”
n Contact reporter Jarid Shipley at email@example.com or 881-1217.