Summit High graduate helps fight war on terrorism
SUMMIT COUNTY – Tyler Avery didn’t know what to expect as he and his shipmates headed to the Arabian Sea.
Avery, a 1999 Summit High graduate, has been in the Navy for one-and-a-half years now. The 20-year-old recently was out of Navy training school when terrorists attacked the World Trade Center and Pentagon.
Avery said he and his shipmates had just left Singapore Sept. 11, when their captain announced they were headed to Afghanistan.
“I was pretty much scared,” Avery said. “I had no experience, didn’t know what to expect.”
Avery said his ship was one of the first to respond in the U.S. war against terrorism.
“It was intense at first,” he said. “It was pretty much an adrenaline rush because there was so much going on just 24 hours a day. We basically slept when we could.
“As soon as I saw how everything was working, I calmed down, and everybody calmed down.”
Avery and many of his shipmates were stationed in the Arabian Sea for 120 days, which is an unusually long time at sea without returning to land, he said. The ship – the size of three football fields – housed almost 6,000 people and 78 aircraft.
“Our planes did all of our battling,” he said.
According to Avery, the aircraft pilots were instructed to destroy potential threats to the U.S, including military bases, airports and aircrafts.
Meanwhile, Avery remained on ship, from where there was no sign of land.
He compared his job to a parking valet – the main difference being he parks airplanes, not vehicles.
Avery said people change at sea – especially 120 days at sea.
The first month is usually not too bad, because everyone is enthusiastic and working hard, he said. By the second month, however, it’s not so pretty.
“Everybody was just sick of everybody else,” Avery said. There were many verbal altercations.
But by the third month, everyone was so eager to go home, he said, they all “started getting along again.”
Now, Avery is stationed in Bremerton, Wash. Though he returned home safely, his mother, Dillon resident, Kathi Avery, said she’s not quite relieved.
“I don’t know if any of us are safe,” she said.
Kathi Avery said she encouraged her son to join the Navy.
“I thought the Navy had a great opportunity for him,” she said. But, like her son, she didn’t know what to expect when he was sent to Afghanistan.
“It was kind of scary actually,” Kathi Avery said.
She prayed for her son.
“I prayed for all of our troops.”
And there is a chance her son and his shipmates might return to the Arabian Sea again, she said.
Lu Snyder can be reached at 970-668-3998 x203 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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