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VETERANS DAY 2016

Navy opened Albertoni's eyes to world, appreciation of country

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John Albertoni

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By Kristi Langenbacher
Correspondent

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

John Albertoni grew up on his family’s dairy farm in Southern California. After graduating high school he didn’t plan to attend college, and needed some direction in his life.

For him, that direction came from the Navy.

At 19 years old, the year after graduating high school, he followed in his godfather’s footsteps and joined.

“My godfather served in the Navy in Vietnam, and he’s the reason why I joined the Navy,” Albertoni said.

Albertoni joined the Navy in 1989. Upon completing Navy boot camp, he was assigned to the USS Enterprise, the aircraft carrier which was homeported at Naval Air Station Alameda, Calif.

On board Albertoni served as an aviation boatswain’s mate and fueled aircraft on the flight deck of the aircraft carrier.

“At first I was pretty scared, but I grew to really love it,” he said of his assignment on the aircraft carrier. “It was exhilarating and dangerous, and I loved that.”

The USS Enterprise was the world’s first nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, and had a crew of nearly 5,000 service members while at sea.

“It’s a floating city,” Albertoni said of the ship which deployed overseas in 1989 for an around-the-world cruise which ended at its new homeport of Naval Station Norfolk, Va.

“It’s an experience that I’ll always cherish,” he said. “I got to see the world and experience so many different things.”

Albertoni served during the Gulf War, and during the long deployments he had a chance to visit places including Hong Kong, Singapore, St. Thomas, the Philippines, Korea and Thailand.

At that time he was focused on the service, and performing his duties on the ship, but he now realizes how those experiences affected him.

“When I look back now, I realize how the poverty levels I saw in some of those ports make me realize how lucky we are to have what we have,” he said. “The things I saw have affected my whole life.”

He also realized now that joining the Navy was what he needed at a young man.

“For me it was the best thing because it gave me purpose and helped me realize there’s so much out there in the world,” he said.

He met his wife Peggy, who is from Virginia Beach, in 1991, and the couple got married in 1993, just five months after he left the Navy.

“If I hadn’t joined the Navy, I wouldn’t have met my wife, and had my family,” Albertoni said. “That’s what most important to me – my wife and kids mean the world to me.”

Albertoni has been a firefighter with the Coast Guard Base Elizabeth City Fire Department for the last 17 years. Prior to that, he worked as a federal firefighter for two years at the Norfolk Naval Base in Virginia, followed by two years at Naval Air Station Lemoore in central California.

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