Two Valley natives find themselves in largest maritime war exerc - WFMJ.com News weather sports for Youngstown-Warren Ohio

Two Valley natives find themselves in largest maritime war exercise

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Two sailors, with roots right here in the Mahoning Valley, are taking part in the world's largest warfare maritime exercise. 

The 26th Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) exercise includes twenty-six nations, 46 surface ships, five submarines, and more than 200 aircraft and 25,000 personnel, including Youngstown and Warren natives, will participate in the biennial Rim of the Pacific Exercise. 

Petty Officer 2nd Class Jamal Hameed, a 2014 Warren G. Harding High School graduate, and  Petty Officer 2nd Class Chena Cross, a 2010 Chaney High School graduate, are both on board the USS O'Kane, currently operating out of Pearl Harbor. 

This year's exercise includes forces from Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Colombia, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Israel, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Peru, the Republic of Korea, the Republic of the Philippines, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Tonga, the United Kingdom, the United States and Vietnam. 

Petty Officer Hameed is an information systems technician, while Petty Officer Cross is a logistics specialist.

The pair both say lessons they've learned from the Valley have helped them in their missions. 

Hameed applies the lessons he learned from Warren to his work in the Navy. 

"Dealing with pressure and multi-tasking to ensure all tasks are completed timely and successfully," said Hameed. 

Meanwhile, Cross says she values her ability to communicate: "I learned that communication and customer service are important," said Cross. 

RIMPAC provides a unique training opportunity that helps participants foster and sustain cooperative relationships that are critical to ensuring safety at sea and security on the world's oceans. 

The theme of RIMPAC 2018 is Capable, Adaptive, Partners. 

The nations and forces collaborate for more than a month to exercise a wide range of capabilities and demonstrate the inherent flexibility of maritime forces. 

Both Hameed and Cross say the collaboration, and the chance to work with international forces, has been enlightening. 

"I like doing my job and interacting with the other ships while learning more about my job and continuing to grow," said Hameed. 

"This is my second RIMPAC exercise and I'm looking forward to ensuring the ship is ready for a successful exercise," said Cross. "I like seeing all of the different ship's operate together." 

As members of the U.S. Navy, Hameed, and Cross say they know they are part of a legacy that will last beyond their lifetimes.

"Experiencing deployment really benefited me both personally and professionally," said Hameed. "I really enjoy visiting other countries and it helped broaden my horizons by experiencing different cultures." 

"Through my last deployment, I grew as a person and learned a lot about myself," said Cross. "It made me appreciate those I work with on a daily basis." 

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