Home to the Navy’s only boot camp, Naval Station Great Lakes, in Lake County, Ill., near Chicago, has been turning civilians into U.S. Navy sailors for nearly a century.
The Navy’s largest training facility has sent to the fleet more than 2 million sailors through the Recruit Training Command, and nearly an equal number from its technical schools.
Petty Officer 1st Class Austin Sims, a Noblesville native, plays an important role at the facility as a religious program specialist, training and mentoring sailors for the future of the fleet.
A religious program specialist is responsible for preparing devotional materials, organizing faith-based events, maintaining religious records and providing personal security for Navy chaplains.
NSGL supports more than 20,000 sailors, Marines, soldiers and Dept. of Defense civilians who live and work there.
Although there are many ways for sailors to earn distinction in their command, community and career, Sims said he is most proud of completing the Marine Corps Expeditionary Combat Skills Training course.
“I chose this job to serve with the Fleet Marine Force, and finishing that school granted me the skill set to serve alongside Marines,” Sims said.
Serving in the Navy is continuing a tradition for Sims, who has military ties with family members who have previously served. Sims said he is honored to carry on the family tradition.
“My aunt and uncle both served fulfilling careers in the Navy and retired in the early ’90s. They influenced my decision to join the Navy,” he said. “Serving in the Navy is a privilege. It’s given me the opportunity to learn and grow rapidly into the person I am today, and I look forward to serving for many more years.”