YORKTOWN, N.Y. – A 2010 Yorktown High School graduate is serving in the U.S. Navy aboard the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush.

Petty Officer 3rd Class Alexandera Mikhail is an electronics technician aboard the carrier operating out of the Navy’s largest base.

As an electronics technician, Mikhail is responsible for the external communications of the ship.

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“The best part about serving on this ship is the people you get to meet,” Mikhail said. “I get to meet people from all walks of life.”

Named in honor of the former president, the carrier is longer than three football fields, measuring nearly 1,100 feet. The ship, a true floating city, weighs more than 100,000 tons and has a flight deck that is 252 feet wide. Two nuclear reactors can push the ship through the water at more than 35 mph.

Powerful catapults slingshot the aircraft off the bow of the ship. The planes land aboard the carrier by snagging a steel cable with an arresting hook that protrudes from the rear of the aircraft.

As a sailor with numerous responsibilities, Mikhail learns about life at sea serving in the Navy and the importance of taking personal responsibility while leading others and applying lessons learned at home.

“My hometown taught me knowledge is power,” Mikhail said. But, he added, “I have to know more than what I’ve been taught.”

Sailors’ jobs are highly varied aboard the carrier. Approximately 3,200 men and women make up the ship’s crew, which keeps all parts of the aircraft carrier running smoothly—this includes everything from washing dishes and preparing meals to handling weaponry and maintaining the nuclear reactors. Another 2,500 men and women form the air wing responsible for flying and maintaining the more than 70 aircraft aboard the ship.

The USS George H.W. Bush, like each of the Navy’s aircraft carriers, is designed for a 50-year service life. When the air wing is embarked, the ship carries more than 70 attack jets, helicopters and other aircraft, all of which take off from and land aboard the carrier at sea.

All of this makes the ship a self-contained mobile airport and strike platform, and often the first response to a global crisis because of its ability to operate freely in international waters anywhere in the world.

“The accomplishment I’m most proud of is earning the enlisted surface warfare pin,” said Mikhail.

As a member of one of the U.S. Navy’s most relied-upon assets, Mikhail and other George H.W. Bush sailors know they are part of a legacy that will last beyond their lifetimes.

“The Navy has taught me patience,” Mikhail said. “You work with so many different types of people, you can’t get along with everyone, and so you have to learn how to communicate with different people.”

Dusty Good is a member of the Navy Office of Community Outreach.