Mineola native serves aboard nation’s newest floating airport at sea

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(Photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Apprentice Angel Jaskuloski)
A Mineola, New York, native and 1994 Wheatley School graduate is serving in the U.S. Navy aboard the service’s newest aircraft carrier USS Gerald R. Ford.
Lt. Cmdr. David Kim is a chaplain aboard the carrier homeported in Norfolk, Virginia. As a Navy chaplain, Kim is responsible for serving the spiritual needs of sailors.”I’m a pastor for the sailors in this command,” said Kim. “The ship is my parish.”

Kim credits success in the Navy to many of the lessons learned growing up in Mineola.

“I learned how to be flexible, which pays off in the military,” said Kim. “We have a phrase known as ‘semper gumbi’ or always flexible. I also learned the importance of family and community.”

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.

Kim is playing an important part in America’s focus on rebuilding military readiness, strengthening alliances and reforming business practices in support of the National Defense Strategy.

Though there are many ways for sailors to earn distinction in their command, community, and career, Kim is most proud of deploying to Afghanistan in 2011 with a Marine battalion.

“It was a rough deployment,” said Kim. “We lost 17 Marines, and being able to help counsel my Marines during and after that deployment was important to me.”

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

“My dad served in the South Korean Army,” said Kim. “His service embodied a duty that I learned and he helped influence me to serve. He is a pastor, and my grandfather was a pastor too. So, serving others is part of what we do.”

As a member of one of the U.S. Navy’s most relied upon capital assets, Kim and other Ford sailors know they are part of a legacy that will last beyond their lifetimes providing the Navy the nation needs.

“Being able to see so many sides of what military service offers is very humbling,” added Kim. “I’ve had a lot of experiences and done a lot of cool things. Being able to have this much fun and still counsel others is very rewarding. I get to have more fun than most pastors and find more fulfillment than most others.”

Submitted by Navy Office of Community Outreach

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