USS Charleston (LCS 18) Sailor in the Spotlight - Boatswain's Mate Seaman Kiara Woods

by Story by Petty Officer 3rd Class Adam Butler
22 June 2021
USS Charleston (LCS 18) Sailor in the Spotlight - Boatswain's Mate Seaman Kiara Woods
USS Charleston (LCS 18) Sailor in the Spotlight - Boatswain's Mate Seaman Kiara Woods
USS Charleston (LCS 18) Sailor in the Spotlight - Boatswain's Mate Seaman Kiara Woods
USS Charleston (LCS 18) Sailor in the Spotlight - Boatswain's Mate Seaman Kiara Woods
USS Charleston (LCS 18) Sailor in the Spotlight - Boatswain's Mate Seaman Kiara Woods
Photo By: Story by Petty Officer 3rd Class Adam Butler
VIRIN: 210622-N-N0831-0103
(June 12, 2021) -- A Fresno, Calif., native and 2018 Fresno High School graduate is serving in the U.S. Navy aboard the rotationally-deployed Independence-variant littoral combat ship USS Charleston (LCS 18).

Seaman Kiara Woods joined the Navy as a Boatswain’s Mate in February following her high school graduation and has been with Charleston’s Gold crew since her initial training. She is responsible for training, directing and supervising personnel in ship’s maintenance duties in all activities relating to marlinespikes, decks, boat seamanship, upkeep of ship’s external structure, rigging, deck equipment and life boats.

“This is my dream job,” said Woods. “I’ve been wanting to join the military since I could talk, and it’s worked out. I plan on doing at least 20 years and even becoming a Boatswain warrant officer.”

One of the major responsibilities Woods has on her ship is being the Landing Signalman Enlisted (LSE), responsible for communicating to the helicopter pilots through hand signals for safe launching and landings on the ship.

“I love being an LSE,” said Woods, “and it’s pretty rare to be as junior ranking as I am and have that qualification. I’m proud to be the youngest person on board and having the responsibility of making sure they land safely.”

Woods credits her mother for setting her up for success in the Navy.

“My Mom always told me that no matter where I work, there will be the good and the ugly, and if I work through the ugly, I will appreciate the good even more,” said Woods. “She taught me to never give up, and I still hold on to that.”

It is this perseverance that helps Woods continue to serve, said Woods.

“Everyone has the opportunity to serve, and while there’s nothing wrong with choosing to not serve, you do have to be a strong person to be able to spend so much time away from home, and I take pride in that,” said Woods. “I could have stayed home doing the exact same thing I was doing since high school, but I’m 21 and making my own and traveling the world.”

Attached to Destroyer Squadron 7, Charleston is on a rotational deployment to the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operations in support of security and stability in the region, and to work alongside allied and partner navies to provide maritime security and stability, key pillars of a free and open Indo-Pacific.

As the U.S. Navy’s destroyer squadron forward-deployed in Southeast Asia, DESRON 7 serves as the primary tactical and operational commander of littoral combat ships rotationally deployed to Singapore, functions as Expeditionary Strike Group 7’s Sea Combat Commander, and builds partnerships through training exercises and military-to-military engagements.

7th Fleet is the U.S. Navy’s largest forward-deployed fleet and employs 50 to 70 ships and submarines across the Western Pacific and Indian Oceans. 7th Fleet routinely operates and interacts with 35 maritime nations while conducting missions to preserve and protect a free and open Indo-Pacific region.
 
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