Mercer Graduate Serves In U.S. Navy
Chief Mass Communication Specialist Catherine Bland
Navy Office of Community Outreach
Airman Apprentice Austin Stepp, a native of Harrodsburg, serves the U.S. Navy assigned to Aviation Enlisted Aircrew Training School in Pensacola, Florida. Stepp graduated from Mercer County Senior High School in 2023. The skills and values needed to succeed in the Navy are similar to those found in Harrodsburg.
“Growing up, I learned that people and relationships are what give life value,” said Stepp. “All the friends I made growing up and my relationships with my teachers gave me value.”
Stepp joined the Navy five months ago.
“I joined the Navy because I wanted to have a proud future and have something positive to look back on,” said Stepp. “I wanted to give back and be part of something bigger than myself.”
Aviation Enlisted Aircrew Training School provides training to enlisted aircrew and rescue swimmer candidates. The training is physically demanding and involves instruction on topics such as aircrew duties and assignments, survival, first aid and water rescue procedures. With these skills, enlisted aviation personnel from the Navy and Marine Corps will eventually be assigned to fleet squadrons as naval aircrewmen.
This year commemorates 50 years of women flying in the U.S. Navy. In 1973, the first eight women began flight school in Pensacola; one year later six of them, known as “The First Six,” earned their “Wings of Gold.” Over the past 50 years, the Navy has expanded its roles for women to lead and serve globally and today our women aviators project power from the sea in every type of Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard aircraft. Our nation and our Navy are stronger because of their service, according to Navy officials.
“Having a cadre of students who are eager to learn and extremely hardworking, ensures we offer the best and brightest for naval aviation and the Naval Aircrew community,” said Capt. Brad Arthur, commanding officer, Naval Aviation Schools Command.
Serving in the Navy means Stepp is part of a team that is taking on new importance in America’s focus on rebuilding military readiness, strengthening alliances and reforming business practices in support of the National Defense Strategy.
“The Navy is our biggest show of force,” said Stepp. “We have the world’s greatest navy and it is known.”
With 90 percent of global commerce traveling by sea and access to the internet relying on the security of undersea fiber optic cables, Navy officials continue to emphasize that the prosperity of the United States is directly linked to trained sailors and a strong Navy.
Stepp has many opportunities to achieve accomplishments during military service.
“I am proud that I graduated from boot camp,” said Stepp.
As Stepp and other sailors continue to train and perform missions, they take pride in serving their country in the U.S. Navy.
“Serving in the Navy means protecting my family and paying back,” said Stepp. “I feel like I owe it to my family to give back to them.”
Stepp is grateful to others for helping make a Navy career possible.
“I would like to thank my brother, Sonny, for always being there and for his big support,” added Stepp. “I would also like to thank my mom, Renee, for always sticking with us and providing the best future possible.”