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Jenks Gazette

Jenks Graduate Serves with the U.S. Navy Half a World Away

By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Robert Zahn
Navy Office of Community Outreach

Chief Petty Officer Nicholas Heidingsfelder

A Tulsa native and 2002 Jenks High School graduate is serving in the U.S. Navy with Commander, Task Force 70.

Chief Petty Officer Nicholas Heidingsfelder is a gunner’s mate serving with, Commander, Task Force 70, forward-deployed to Yokosuka, Japan.

Heidingsfelder is the force gunner. He manages the weapons systems and ordnance for the entire area of responsibility of the task force.

Heidingsfelder is proud to serve in the Pacific and fondly recalls memories of Tulsa.
“Being raised in a small town, people had a strong work ethic,” says Heidingsfelder. “I’ve applied the same principles in the Navy.”

Moments like that make it worth serving around the world ready at all times to defend America’s interests. With more than 50 percent of the world’s shipping tonnage and a third of the world’s crude oil passing through the region, the United States has historic and enduring interests in this part of the world.  The Navy’s presence in Yokosuka is part of that long-standing commitment, explaines Navy officials.

“I love being forward deployed here in Japan,” says Heidingsfelder. “The life experiences here are second to none. It’s definitely for those who enjoy hard work.”

Heidingsfelder is also proud of being attached to the command. He believes that being handed his position gives him the opportunity to be a positive impact to his fellow sailors.

“You make a difference every day,” says Deputy Commander, U.S. 7th Fleet Joey Dodgen. “We are the most prepared, highly trained and most capable force in the Indo Pacific. Our carriers, amphibious assault ships, aircraft and most importantly, our people, are ready today to face regional challenges and lead our Navy’s forces in this theater, just as the officers and Sailors of 7th Fleet have done for 75 years. So thank you for all that you do.”

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

“It’s an honor to serve in the world’s finest Navy,” says Heidingsfelder. “It’s provided me an opportunity to defend my country and provide for my family.”

Seventh Fleet, which is celebrating its 75th year in 2018, spans more than 124 million square kilometers, stretching from the International Date Line to the India/Pakistan border; and from the Kuril Islands in the North to the Antarctic in the South. Seventh Fleet’s area of operation encompasses 36 maritime countries and 50 percent of the world’s population with between 50-70 U.S. ships and submarines, 140 aircraft, and approximately 20,000 sailors in the 7th Fleet.

Updated 04-27-2018

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