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NEWS | Aug. 18, 2020

17 Years: The Story of a Senior Chief

By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Christopher Cavagnaro

Military members of all branches serve for a variety of reasons, and different motivations drive each person who put on the uniform.

For Senior Chief Cryptologic Technician (Collection) Jamey Stewart, from Greenwood, S.C., the memory of a high school friend and former Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps classmate is something he carries with him throughout his career.

“In October, 2005, I remember picking up a Navy Times magazine and seeing a good friend of mine from high school in the Fallen Heroes section,” said Stewart. “He was killed during a firefight in Iraq. He was the first person I had personally known who had been killed in the war.”

The day Stewart found out what had happened, he cut out the photograph of Army Sgt. Eric Fifer and has kept it in his wallet ever since.

“I think a lot about the fact that it could have just as easily been me, and how he won’t have the chance to do all the things in life that come with getting old and growing up,” said Stewart. “I think about him often, and have tried to be the best Sailor, husband and father I can. His memory always reminds me to be grateful because I’ve been given the chance.”

Stewart joined the Navy in 2003, but his decision to serve was made well before then.

“I always wanted to be in the military and when 9/11 occurred, it pretty much cemented my decision,” said Stewart. “I convinced my parents to sign the paperwork allowing me to enlist when I was 17. I spent the next year in the delayed entry program and left for Recruit Training Command two weeks after I graduated high school.”

Now serving as the assistant cryptologic resource coordinator at Commander, Carrier Strike Group (CCSG) 15, Stewart leads the cryptologic team in preparing realistic scenarios for deploying carrier strike groups and amphibious readiness groups that are preparing to deploy.

“We carry the brunt of the burden in creating the scenarios and having them make sense to deploying assets,” said Stewart. “I think we do a very good job, and many of the indications and warnings for the training audience are derived from the cryptologic side of the house.”

CCSG-15 most recently assessed Carrier Strike Group 11 during its Composite Training Unit Exercise before deploying to the Western Pacific.

“Being here puts me in a great position to have direct impact on afloat cryptology and have effects on how we do business at sea,” said Stewart. “This tour allows me a chance to pass that information forward, and do our best to ensure combat readiness and excellence.”

After 17 years of Naval service, Stewart reflects on his decision to enlist and the experiences that brought him to where he is today.

“I’ve been afforded many opportunities I never would’ve had if I chose a different path in life,” said Stewart. “I’ve worked the type of missions that movies are made about, and shouldered the weight of making decisions I knew meant life or death. I’ve been able to provide more for my family than I ever had growing up, and without the Navy, I don’t know how much of that would have been possible.”