Veteran Salute: Navy vet still serving others

Veteran Salute

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) — A former sailor said signing up for the Navy allowed her to meet so many people, from so many places. Aja Fulcher is from Libby, Montana, a town of just over 2,000 people, so she was excited to get to the sea for a whole new pace of life.

Fulcher said when she signed up for the Navy she was excited to see more of the world.

“I am going to leave my hometown and everything is going to be great,” said Fulcher. “Then when you step off the bus at boot camp, it’s like ‘oh'”.

She survived boot camp at Naval Station Great Lakes, then went on to serve four years aboard the USS Benfold, a guided missile destroyer on sea duty.

“Life on Benfold was very fast-paced,” said Fulcher. “We were, you know, tracking and identifying what was around us. My goal was to create a picture, for the ship and the surrounding ships.”

That was a nonstop job.

“You don’t slow down. If they need you, they need you. You can’t call in sick. You have to be there.”

She said there was so much to do on the ship, they were always short on one thing.

“Sleep was very hard to come by,” said Fulcher. “You didn’t really know what schedule you were going to be on.”

Even with that, she said she wouldn’t trade her time aboard the ship, or in the Navy.

“There were a lot of good experiences.”

She is now thankful for a slower pace.

“It’s nice to be able to slow down and take time for my family.”

It’s a family that came to be because two sailors fell in love. They ended up in Goddard, because Fulcher’s husband is from Kansas.

She said, once they got out of the Navy, “It’s a very different world, being in versus being out, more so than you would expect,” Fulcher said.

She said it took some adjusting to get used to life back on land.

She is now the Community Service Officer for the Goddard Police Department.

“I do a lot of the administrative stuff, records keeping, property and evidence maintenance, things of that nature,” Fulcher said.

She’s still in service, years after she got just what she was looking for in the Navy, the opportunity to travel the world.

“Hawaii, Guam, Paulau, that was a good one, Bali, Bahrain, Dubai — a lot of cool places,” Fulcher said.

She said her favorite place was La Paz.

Fulcher said she will be friends with many of those she served with forever. It’s hard not to get to know your neighbor in very tight quarters, since she said there were about 250 people on board the USS Benfold.

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