Brothers at Home and at Sea - Siblings Serve Together Aboard USS Sterett

12 November 2020
Cryptologic Technicians
201104-N-NC885-3004 Gulf of Oman (November 4th, 2020)Cryptologic Technician (Technical) 3rd Class Ryan Aylward and Crypotologic Technician (Technical) 1st Class Byron Jack, both from Pearl City, Hawaii, and assigned to the guided missile destroyer USS S
Cryptologic Technicians
NA
201104-N-NC885-3004 Gulf of Oman (November 4th, 2020)Cryptologic Technician (Technical) 3rd Class Ryan Aylward and Crypotologic Technician (Technical) 1st Class Byron Jack, both from Pearl City, Hawaii, and assigned to the guided missile destroyer USS S
Photo By: Drace Wilson
VIRIN: 210120-N-N0831-0107


In the Electronic Warfare corner inside the Combat Information Center on board the guided-missile destroyer USS Sterett (DDG 104) sits two Sailors. One of them is Cryptologic Technician (Technical) 1st Class Byron Jack, the other is Cryptologic Technician (Technical) 3rd Class Ryan Aylward. With the only apparent similarities being their personality and sense of humor, it would be hard to believe that they are brothers.
 
“He’s just a taller version of me,” said Jack.
 
“And don’t forget more handsome,” replied Aylward.
 
“CTT1 Jack and CTT3 Aylward's personalities are best described as intricately different but similar,” said Cryptologic Technician (Technical) Senior Chief Katherine Kennedy, the Operations lead chief petty officer and the brothers’ supervisor. “CTT1 Jack's quiet, impactful and wise demeanor is a great balance with CTT3 Aylward’s bodacious, offbeat and impelling personality which makes the EW corner a force that can’t be reckoned with. They’re both overall positive, good-natured and mindful, yet they have their own personalities that makes them very unique.”
 
Jack and Aylward are two of four siblings in a family including two sisters, their mother and Navy veteran father. Jack is the oldest and was born in Guam. He received his last name in honor of the Micronesian tradition of naming the firstborn son with the mother’s maiden name. Every child after him has the last name of Aylward, his father’s last name. 
 
Alyward was born eight years after Jack while the family resided in Pearl City, Hawaii, which both consider home. Their family made one final move to Franklin, Va., where the brothers completed high school. Jack didn’t know exactly what he wanted to do after graduation in 2008. He wanted to see what the rest of the world had to offer and decided to follow in the footsteps of his retired Boatswain Mate Senior Chief father and enlisted in the U.S. Navy that year, initially as an Aviation Structural Mechanic. Prior to transferring to Sterett in 2017, Jack cross-rated to Cryptologic Technician (Technical) or CTT. Sailors in this rate analyze encrypted electronic communications, jam enemy radar signals, decipher information in foreign languages and maintain state-of-the-art equipment and networks used to generate top secret intelligence.
 
Following graduation from high school in 2017, Aylward found himself in a similar position as Jack did when he was his age: no current plans, and not sure what to do next. He enrolled in college but found that it wasn’t a fit for him at that time. After Aylward left college, Jack stepped in. While participating in the Rim of the Pacific Exercise (RIMPAC), then-CTT2 Jack flew his younger brother out to Hawaii for a visit.
 
One day on the beach, Jack told him about serving in the Navy, specifically as a CTT and encouraged him to consider joining. 
 
“A couple months later he called me and told me that planned to go to a recruiting station,” said Jack. 
 
“I didn’t do so well in college, and I decided I needed to change things up and become an adult,” said Aylward. “I went to the recruiting station knowing that I wanted to join the Navy as a CTT. I took the ASVAB [Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery] and they said that I was eligible for the rate.”
 
Aylward reported to boot camp on Feb. 19, 2019 and then to “A” School two months later. Aylward reported to his first duty station just over one year later on Feb. 20, 2020. After joking with one another that the brothers would end up on the same ship, Aylward received orders to none other than USS Sterett, homeported in San Diego. Aylward moved in with Jack and the two found themselves living with each other once again for the first time in over a decade.
 
“We would go to the gym and out to eat a lot,” said Aylward of their time together in San Diego. “We didn’t get the chance to explore much when I first arrived since deployment and COVID-19 happened soon afterwards.”
 
“So we mostly stayed inside and played video games,” added Jack. “It’s just like when we were younger.”
 
A difference from their childhood is the brothers now do not just live together—but also work together. 
 
“The ‘him [Jack] here’ and the ‘him at home’ is a little different,” said Aylward. “Since he is the division’s Leading Petty Officer, he has to be a little stricter and keep everyone in the division in line. He is not too lenient on me so that no one can say that he treats me differently compared to everyone else we work with. He’s fair and he’s not too rough on anybody.”
 
“He doesn’t look for excuses,” said Jack about his brother. “Instead of coming to me with just the problem, he will also have two possible solutions for it as well. He tries his best at whatever it is he is doing, and then he will ask for help.”
 
“Although brothers, CTT1 Jack and CTT3 Aylward have displayed superb professionalism in the workforce and have found a good balance of being shipmates and brothers,” said Kennedy. “They’re both lucky to experience deployment—the hardships and fun memories that only one in a million can experience with their real brothers. Whether it’s standing countless hours in CIC or maintaining the phone and distance line, they are inseparable and it’s been great watching both of them grow in their careers.”
 
The brothers enjoy working together aboard a deployed warship. 
 
“There’s a lot of positive things about having your brother as a coworker,” said Aylward “It’s a lot easier to communicate how we work to each other and it’s also a lot more fun, especially working in the same division. I’m grateful. If you get along with your sibling, then I would recommend taking the chance to work with them 100 percent.”
 
Despite Jack’s time on board Sterett coming to an end and Aylward’s only just beginning, the brothers may continue to cross paths out in the fleet.
 
“I just turned in my paperwork to reenlist,” said Jack. “I’m looking to stay in San Diego for shore duty so that I can hang out with my brother some more.”
 
“I will probably reenlist since this deployment was rough,” said Aylward. “I’m not going to let this one deployment decide if I want to stay in the Navy or not.”
 
While deployed, Jack and Aylward continue to serve side-by-side, literally, as two Sailors—and brothers—underway aboard Sterett.
 
Sterett is part of the Nimitz Carrier Strike Group and is deployed to the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations to ensure maritime stability and security in the Central Region, connecting the Mediterranean and Pacific through the Western Indian Ocean and three critical chokepoints to the free flow of global commerce.

 
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