By Petty Officer R. David Valdez, U.S. Navy
While Americans at home have watched footage from Operation Iraqi Freedom, they've likely seen images of aircraft from the USS Nimitz (CVN 68), a nuclear powered aircraft carrier homeported in San Diego, Calif., dropping bombs on military targets.
The public hears the stories about the pilots who fly those missions and sees what the aircraft can do, but there's an untold story about the sailors who support those missions. Petty Officer Second Class William South is one of those sailors who make sure the United States Navy can carry out its mission.
South is the grandson of the Brazil American Legion Post #2 Commander Bob Brush and his wife Charlotte, Mary Lou and Ursell Cox and Francis and Nellie South, all of Brazil.
The 29-year-old sailor is a hospital corpsman. He's married with three step-children and a one and a half year old daughter. South has been at sea about eight months.
"What I miss most is my wife and kids," South reported to Petty Officer Valdez. "I just hope they fully understand why we do the job we do. I love them and can't wait to get home to them.
"The nights are what I like the most. Nights at sea are very clear and it's nice to see the different constellations.
"My mission is to keep everyone healthy and people's spirits up," South said"
Since the war began, the tempo of South's job has increased.
"The biggest change was when we were on our way over here and it got really busy with smallpox and anthrax vaccinations."
South has been in the Navy almost 10 years. He plans on making his career in the military.
"He's a medic," his Grandma Charlotte Brush said. "He'd like to take classes to become a registered nurse."
South should be home within a week. Bob and Charlotte are going to San Diego to visit with their grandson and his family in a few weeks.
"We're very proud of him, "Bob said. "It's always a sacrifice being away from your family. But this is what he wanted to do. He talked about it a long time before he joined."
"He's such a good kid," Charlotte said, her voice cracking. "I worry about him. But he said he wanted to defend his country so his kids could grow up being free."