A 1996 Colton High School graduate, University of Incardinate Word student
and San Bernardino, California, native returned home June 16, marking the end of a seven-month deployment aboard USS Harry S. Truman. Since departing its homeport of Norfolk, Virginia in November 2019, the aircraft carrier sailed in the Arabian Gulf, Red Sea, Mediterranean Sea and Atlantic Ocean.
Chief Petty Officer Mario Gonzales is a hospital corpsman aboard the carrier. As a hospital corpsman, Gonzales is responsible for being a clinic manager.
“I am responsible for daily operations of the clinic to include the personal and professional development of the sailors in the department,” said Gonzales. “My favorite part of the job is leading and mentoring sailors and junior officers. They are the future of the Navy. Developing them both personally and professionally, there is no greater feeling than watching the success of the sailors I work for. Seeing them get promoted, completing a warfare qualification or watch standing qualification ensures that Harry S. Truman is ready to always answer the nation’s call.”
Following a scheduled return from deployment in March, after operating in the U.S. 5th and 6th Fleet areas of operations, Truman remained underway in the Western Atlantic as a certified and ready carrier force ready for tasking. As the COVID-19 pandemic spread across the globe, the Truman continued to conduct operations underway, minimizing the potential spread of the virus aboard the ships, in order to maintain maritime stability and security and ensure access, deter aggression and defend U.S., allied and partner interests.
“I joined the Navy right out of high school,” added Gonzales. “Four days after graduation I found myself in Navy boot camp. I joined to serve my country and travel the world. The Navy offered the opportunity to better myself both professionally and personally.”
There are many opportunities for sailors to earn recognition in their command, community and careers. Schieffer is most proud of having his leading petty officer, Gonzales, selected as Sailor of the Year.
“It wasn’t just a demonstration of his hard work and dedication but the entire department as a whole,” said Schieffer. “The amazing feeling it was to see him be rewarded for the success of the department. Then a few months later another sailor was recognized as Junior Sailor of the Quarter for her hard work and dedication. Two sailors recognized for their hard work out of 5,400 is quite an accomplishment and I enjoyed every minute of it.”
Sailors’ jobs are highly varied aboard Truman. More than 6,000 men and women serve aboard the ship during deployment keeping all parts of the ship running smoothly. Each crewmember performs a number of tasks outside of their traditional job or rating.
“I am currently the leading chief petty officer of the dental department,” said Gonzales. “I am responsible for the dental care of 5,400 sailors attached to the Truman. We provide routine dental care by providing annual checkups and operative dental care.”
As a member of the U.S. Navy, Gonzales, as well as other sailors, know they are a part of a service tradition providing unforgettable experiences through leadership development, world affairs and humanitarian assistance. Their efforts will have a lasting effect around the globe and for generations of sailors who will follow.