Pederson taking part in a rescue operation on a F/A-18 super hornet.
By DANA HERNANDEZ
FORT HALL — Shoshone-Bannock tribal member Michael Pederson, has been serving in the U.S. Navy for almost four years now. He serves on the aircraft carrier, CVN-68 USS Nimitz and is stationed in Birmingham, Washington.
He works as an ABH Fire Rescue on the flight deck where he responds to emergencies on the flight deck and personnel.
“We’re basically the fire fighters and EMTs on the flight deck. It’s both exciting and nerve racking because the fighter jets have to come back down and they do 135 mph. Anything can happen, we don’t take our eyes off of anything,” he said.
His recent deployment was termed a record breaker, the USS Nimitz traveled for almost a full year, which is the longest deployment since the World War II era.
Pederson said his deployment on the USS Nimitz was eventful, but was not the typical experience due to COVID-19.
“We were supposed to deploy in the summer, but once COVID-19 began to spread, we had to board the beginning of April 2020, so that we could quarantine and we did not get back until March,” said Pederson.
Typically, a deployment on a Navy ship can go 30-50 days until they arrive at a port, but Pederson said they were aboard for 90 days until they reached a port in Guam.
Pederson said, “The main reason for joining the Navy is to experience different countries, but with the COVID-19 restrictions we didn’t get to do all that. We had to sit in chairs and tents at the ports, which was basically done in empty parking lots. We couldn’t venture out, but that was mitigations and what was appointed over us.” He has traveled to Guam and all other places in the Persian Gulf and Afghanistan.
Michael Pederson with his brother Kyle.
Pederson said he enlisted in the beginning of 2017 because he wanted to do something more. After graduating high school in Coeur d’Alene and living with his friends, he said he was just living normal, but felt like it just wasn’t enough. “It was just an impulsive decision to join the Navy, I figured I would make a change and do something new. The schooling benefits is also something I wanted.” His grandfather also served in the Navy and would talk about it a lot.
His term in the Navy will be up in 2023 and Pederson plans to use his Montgomery GI and Post 9/11 GI Bill to attend school get a degree and use it to join the Air Force to become a pilot. “That is my plan, but things can change, I have a daughter on the way so that is my priority.”
Michael Pederson in "Vulture's Row" on the USS Nimitz.
Pederson said the military is a huge opportunity for anyone looking to better their lives. “The biggest thing for me, was I was just an average high school student. If any students are like me and don’t have a plan after high school they could join the military, they have a lot of programs. There are a lot of branches like the Air National Guard and National Guard that allow you to stay home and work. The military has a lot to offer. I never pictured myself doing what I am doing, but I am glad that I am here.”