Alexandria native trains U.S. Navy future warfighters
Sailors are some of the most highly-trained people on the planet, according to Navy officials, and this training requires highly-dedicated instructors.
At Naval Education and Training Command, this obligation falls upon hard-charging, Navy professionals who train and mentor the Navy’s future warfighters.
Petty Officer 1st Class Reginald Gaines, Jr., a native of Alexandria, Louisiana, is an instructor at NETC, providing the fleet with sailors who possess the basic technical knowledge and skills necessary for naval service.
“I enjoy training my replacements to be better than me,” Gaines said.
Instructors are experts in the subject matter they teach, and they provide cutting-edge technical training that transforms civilians into mission-ready sailors.
Gaines, a 2005 graduate of Peabody Magnet High School, credits success as an instructor to many of the lessons learned growing up in Alexandria.
“I learned that everything happens for a reason,” Gaines said. “Anything that happens in life good or bad, you learn from your mistakes and keep going in life.”
NETC educates and trains those who serve our nation, taking them from street-to-fleet by transforming civilians into highly skilled, operational, and combat-ready warfighters, while providing the tools and opportunities for continuous learning and development.
NETC is made up of six commands that provide a continuum of professional education and training in support of Surface Navy requirements that prepare enlisted sailors and officers to serve at sea, providing apprentice and specialized skills training to 7,500 sailors a year.
A key element of the Navy the nation needs is tied to the fact that America is a maritime nation, and that the nation’s prosperity is tied to the ability to operate freely on the world’s oceans. More than 70 percent of the Earth’s surface is covered by water; 80 percent of the world’s population lives close to a coast; and 90 percent of all global trade by volume travels by sea.
Gaines plays an important role in America’s focus on rebuilding military readiness, strengthening alliances and reforming business practices in support of National Defense Strategy.
“Our priorities center on people, capabilities and processes, and will be achieved by our focus on speed, value, results and partnerships,” said Secretary of the Navy Richard V. Spencer. “Readiness, lethality and modernization are the requirements driving these priorities.”
Though there are many ways for sailors to earn distinction in their command, community and career, Gaines is most proud of receiving the Junior Sailor of the Year award while stationed at Naval Air Weapons Station in China Lake, California, and Junior Sailor of the Year award while serving onboard USS Gladiator in Bahrain.
“These awards remind me of the people that have helped me become the sailor that I am today and if it wasn't for these people inside and outside the Navy that were put in my path, I don't know what type of sailor I might be,” Gaines said “Every time I am given a chance to receive awards, I always think about those that helped me get to where I am today.”
Serving in the Navy is a continuing tradition of military service for Gaines, who has military ties with family members who have previously served. Gaines is honored to carry on the family tradition.
“My great aunts, uncles and cousins have served in the Navy, Army, Air Force and Marine Corps, and for me to keep the tradition going is a blessing in itself,” Gaines said.
As a member of one of the U.S. Navy’s most relied-upon assets, Gaines and other instructors know they are part of a legacy that will last beyond their lifetimes providing the Navy the nation needs.
“Serving in the Navy means many things, from being an ambassador of the United States when you are in foreign countries, to being a leader amongst your peers and subordinates,” Gaines said. “You are also a mentor to junior sailors who will someday take your place and most importantly, you are taking care of your family.”