JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM, Hawaii -- At a small pier, along the channel of an Air Force Base, a unit of Army mariners maintain and operate two Logistics Support Vessels.
Among them is Spc. Jose Hernandez, 163rd Transportation Detachment, 545th Transportation Company, 8th Theater Sustainment Command, Special Troops Battalion. He is one of many waterborne Soldiers who operate in the Indo-Asia-Pacific's maritime domain.
Hernandez and his crew mates play a vital role in the movement of cargo, traversing sea lanes to move necessary assets to those who need them.
In 2013, Hernandez enlisted in the Army out of San Antonio, Texas and attended Boot Camp in Fort Jackson, South Carolina, where he learned that he would proceed to Advanced Individual Training to become a watercraft engineer.
"I had no idea the Army had vessels," Hernandez said. "I actually thought I was going to be working on little outboard motors that go on little boats. The next thing I know…they're showing me ships and telling me 'you might be working on (a Logistic Support Vessel).'"
After completing AIT and learning more about his craft, Hernandez decided to take his education a step further and pursue an interest in mechanical engineering.
"I was interested because…I wanted a job that was going to allow me to further my experience if I get out into the civilian world. Something I will be able to take with me," Hernandez said.
As Hernandez executes his day-to-day mission down in the vessel's engine room, his efforts haven't gone unnoticed by his leadership. Chief Warrant Officer 3 Clinton Smith, 163rd Transportation Detachment's commander, explained that Hernandez brings a lot to the unit's mission.
"The engineers are the most vital people on this ship," he said. "As far as Spc. Hernandez, he's an outstanding Soldier. He plays a pivotal role in doing daily preventative maintenance services and checks."
The Indo-Asia-Pacific region is the most disaster-prone region in the world, but thanks to Soldiers like Hernandez and his crew mates, the Army can ensure cargo delivery during humanitarian response and disaster relief efforts to the U.S. and its partner nations.
"To have these capabilities to move supplies, to move cargo, to move personnel, at a moment's notice is very important depending on the disaster and what's required…" Smith said.
As Hernandez's engineering skills grow, both on and off duty, he is continually impressed with how far he has come since enlisting and grateful to those who are helping him reach his potential.
"Before I joined, I had no idea about any of this. I didn't know anything about engines, I didn't know anything about generators, didn't know how they functioned or what the actual purpose of it was," he admitted.
"Going to school and then coming here and learning more from the officers I work under and the sergeants that I have in charge of me -- they all taught me."
Hernandez is one of the best watercraft engineers onboard the vessel, according to Sgt. 1st Class Tony Dasig, 163rd Transportation Detachment.
"He likes challenges and never hesitates when it comes to stepping up..." Dasig said. "He is a fast learner and eager to learn more new skills. He will never let his team mates down..."
With a personal commitment to succeed and mentors above him dedicated to coaching his progress, Hernandez says his biggest supporters remain the same.
"One reason why I joined the Army was because my family's from Mexico. My mother, my father, no one in my family has ever joined any armed forces, and I wanted to be the first one…" he explained.
"So that was a big step for me and my family. They're just happy that I'm doing something with my life that will help me better my future."
Hernandez continues to engineer his future while fueling the efforts of one of the Army's largest powered watercraft, the Logistics Support Vessel.