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October is #Warfighting month focusing on Navy Warfighters, a fast and flexible force deployed worldwide to preserve peace, protect commerce, and deter aggression on, above, and below the sea. We asked Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy (MCPON) Mike D. Stevens to talk about his Navy experience and what #warfighting means to him.

USS Constitution sets sail for the first time since 1997 during an underway demonstration commemorating Guerriere Day. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Michael Achterling/Released)

From our Navy’s beginning 237 years ago with just six frigates, our primary mission has been and continues to be warfighting first. As we celebrate our Navy’s birthday, it’s important for us to look back at our history and the brave men and women whose courage and sacrifice secured peace, freedom, our way of life, and paved the way for our Navy to be the greatest Navy in the world.

I personally believe that looking back at our history helps us to better understand and contend with the current challenges that we face. We can look back at the courageous efforts of our forefathers who fought for their beliefs to create a free and independent nation. We can look back at the Sailors who have gone before us and see how they persevered and overcame the challenges they faced during times of war. From the Revolutionary War, to the War of 1812, Civil War, World War I & II, Korea, Vietnam … our Sailors and Navy have proven time and time again that we can overcome challenges in the face of adversity.

As a young second class, I was a helicopter crew chief conducting helicopter mine countermeasure operations near Kuwait during Desert Strom/Desert Shield. We were pushing the helicopters and crew to their extreme limit. I wondered each time we flew a mission, if we would come back safe?

Then I found myself thinking about the brave helicopter crews of Vietnam and bomber crews of World War II that flew into the face of danger, taking on enemy fire almost every time they flew, knowing their chance of a safe return was never a guarantee. So, I thought to myself, if those brave men could muster up the courage and strength to take on the challenges they faced and fly those missions time and time again, then I certainly could too, and frankly, I had a duty to do so.

I personally look to our history as a roadmap and a guide to help us stay the course and aid us in navigating through the challenges we face today. It is these challenges that create the opportunities that allow us to grow as Sailors, citizens and leaders.

Warfighting Month affords us the opportunity to look at our history and think about the things that we are doing today and how that will be the history for which future generations look back and draw courage from. In everything that we do, we need to provide future generations something to be proud of and celebrate. You and I are a part of this new history. This is our time, our war, and our Navy…and hopefully we will be looked upon with the same reverence that we have towards the generations who went before us.

The Oliver Hazard Perry-class guided-missile frigate USS Underwood (FFG 36) is underway at speed after breaking away during a practice replenishment at sea exercise for UNITAS Atlantic 2012. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communications Specialist 3rd Class Frank J. Pikul/Released)

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