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North Manchester native serves aboard the USS Gerald Ford

Provided photo byMass Communication Specialist Seaman ApprenticeAngel Jaskuloski NORTH MANCHESTER NATIVE:Petty Officer 2nd Class Matthew Fairchild is a mass communication specialist aboard the carrier homeported in Norfolk, Virginia.

Staff Report

A North Manchester native and 2009 North Manchester High School graduate is serving in the U.S. Navy aboard the service’s newest aircraft carrier USS Gerald R. Ford, according to a Thursday press release from Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Jesse Hawthorne, Navy Office of Community Outreach.

Petty Officer 2nd Class Matthew Fairchild is a mass communication specialist aboard the carrier homeported in Norfolk, Virginia. As a Navy mass communication specialist, Fairchild is responsible for communicating the Navy’s mission by being a Navy journalist.

Fairchild credits success in the Navy to many of the lessons learned growing up in North Manchester.

“I was taught hardwork and dedication I learned from growing up on a farm,” stated Fairchild. “If you work hard every day you make life easier for yourself and give yourself more opportunities for success.”

Commissioned in 2017, Ford, or “Warship 78” as she is known by the crew, is 1,106 feet long; longer than three football fields. The ship, a true floating city, weighs more than 100,000 tons and has a flight deck that is 256 feet wide.

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.

Ford is the first of a class of aircraft carriers that offer significant performance improvements over the previous Nimitz-class aircraft carriers. The ship is equipped with the Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System (EMALS) to launch aircraft, rather than steam catapults currently used aboard other aircraft carriers, eliminating the requirement to generate and store steam for catapults, which frees up space. EMALS and other new systems and operating concepts will allow the Ford to accomplish 25 percent more aircraft launches per day than its predecessor while requiring 25 percent fewer crewmembers, resulting in an estimated savings of $4 billion in operating costs over a 50-year life span.

Though there are many ways for sailors to earn distinction in their command, community and career, Fairchild stated he is most proud of being the first mass communication specialist to be meritoriously advanced aboard the ship.

“It was due to dedication and hard work which paid off,” stated Fairchild. “I stayed humble after being advanced and continued to work hard.”

Serving in the Navy is a continuing tradition of military service for Fairchild, who has military ties with family members who have previously served. Fairchild stated he is honored to carry on the family tradition.

“My great-grandfather served in the Marines. His experience of being in during wartime was inspiring to me, and I wanted to have my own experiences,” stated Fairchild.

“Having a proud family makes it all worth it with their support. It’s very eye-opening and an inspiring experience to serve my country.”