Bakersfield Native Serves Aboard U.S. Navy Guided-Missile Destroyer in Pearl Harbor

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JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM, Hawaii – A 2011 Ridgeview High School graduate and Bakersfield, California, native is serving in the U.S. Navy aboard the guided-missile destroyer, USS Halsey.

Petty Officer 3rd Class Nestor Rios works as a Navy fire controlman aboard the forward-deployed Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer operating out of Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii.

Rios credits success in the Navy to many of the lessons learned in Bakersfield.

“Bakersfield has taught me that opportunity is given to those who seek it,” said Rios. “The possibilities are endless if you really put in the effort.”

Halsey measures approximately 500 feet and is powered by four gas turbines that allow the destroyer to achieve more than 30 mph in open seas.

Approximately 30 officers and 300 enlisted men and women make up the ship’s company. Their jobs are highly specialized and keep each part of the cruiser running smoothly, according to Navy officials. The jobs range from maintaining engines and handling weaponry to washing dishes and preparing meals.

As a Navy fire controlman, Rios is responsible for maintaining the computer systems needed for the weapons system onboard the ship.

According to Navy officials, destroyers are tactical multi-mission surface combatants capable of conducting anti-air warfare, anti-submarine warfare and anti-surface warfare, as well as humanitarian assistance. Fast, maneuverable, and technically advanced, destroyers provide the required war-fighting expertise and operational flexibility to execute any tasking overseas.

Being stationed in Pearl Harbor, often referred to as the gateway to the Pacific in defense circles, means Rios is serving in a part of the world taking on a new importance in America’s focus on rebuilding military readiness, strengthening alliances, and reforming business practices in support of the National Defense Strategy.

“Our priorities center on people, capabilities and processes, and will be achieved by our focus on speed, value, results and partnerships,” said Secretary of the Navy Richard V. Spencer. “Readiness, lethality and modernization are the requirements driving these priorities.”

Serving in the Navy is a new tradition for Rios, who is the first in his family to serve.

“I am first generation military, but my family has been very supportive of my decision and they are what keeps me going,” said Rios.

Though there are many ways for sailors to earn distinction in their command, community, and career, Rios is most proud of becoming his training command’s vice president of the Coalition of Sailors Against Destructive Decisions during basic training in Great Lakes, Illinois.

“My service in the community allowed my peers to choose me as one of the leaders and mentors for the team,” said Rios.

As a member of one of the U.S. Navy’s most relied upon assets, Rios and other sailors know they are part of a legacy that will last beyond their lifetimes, one that will provide a critical component of the Navy the nation needs.

“I wanted to challenge myself and be able to see the world. Only less than one percent of Americans serve and I wanted to be a part of that elite few,” added Rios. “Serving in the Navy has allowed me to challenge myself and experience the world just as I hoped for and in ways I would have never imagined and I love that.”

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