Joint Base Charleston


A piece of the puzzle

By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Jennifer Hudson | Joint Base Charleston Public Affairs | October 19, 2010

JOINT BASE CHARLESTON, S.C. -- On his normal workdays work, Master-at-Arms 2nd Class Sherman Whidbee patrols the streets of Joint Base Charleston-Weapons Station, watching out for the safety of military members and their families. He also is one of the few members onboard Naval Support Activity that has deployed overseas.

Born and raised in Richmond, Va., MA2 Whidbee decided to join the Navy, in 2003 when he was 18-years-old. Growing up, he learned to walk his own path not succumbing to the peer pressures of others. His mother was a special needs teacher and his father a Korean War veteran.

"I grew up in an old fashioned type environment. When I was younger most kids had the Nintendo system, but I didn't get one until I was 12-years-old. I played outside a lot, played sports and played in bands. I learned to play the piano by ear. I also played the guitar, trumpet, drums and string bass," he said laughing. "I learned how to read music before I could read anything else."

"I looked into college but I didn't think that it was for me. I wanted to do more with my life. I didn't want to just sit around in my hometown and hang with the wrong crowd. I wanted more, I wanted a future and a chance to travel the world," said MA2 Whidbee.

He said that he had never looked at the military as an option, but after seeing the tragedy of the 9/11 attacks, he said he had found his calling.

"I remember the 9/11 attacks when I was 16-years-old; watching them on the television at school. That was my first real taste of terrorism and it got me to question what is was," he said. "I found that I didn't like the idea of people living in fear. Everyone has the right to be happy and live the American dream. That was one of my biggest motivators for joining."

MA2 Whidbee's previous stations were Navy Base Guam, followed by Joint Task Force Guantanamo Bay before joining the security department team here in September 2007.

During his tour here, MA2 Whidbee deployed to Iraq under an Individual Augmentee billet from March 2009 to October 2009. While deployed, Petty Officer Whidbee worked in a special operations unit as operational support, dealing with security, detainee operations and even some communications work.

"It was an incredible difference working in Iraq vice in the states, a big eye-opener. You definitely have a newer, more profound appreciation for stateside assignments," MA2 Whidbee said.

"I was one piece of the puzzle that kept the chain operating smoothly. We all worked as one and leaned on each other for support.

"I worked every day while I was over there, but it never felt that way. Work wasn't work, but a way of life, a way of living. I did my job so that at the end of the day, my team went home, and they did their job so that I could go home. At no point was it every man for himself; everything we did it was for the team, never for the glory of one. If I failed the team failed," MA2 Whidbee said.

Petty Officer Whidbee said that while deployed, he was proud to be part of a team that had such high camaraderie and morale. He said every service member was made to feel as though they were part of the team, like family.

"The most memorable time I had while over there involved my commanding officer. He was a great role model, really down to earth and treated everyone with tons of respect. We were playing around, doing what's called a Toyota Hilux pull, where we pull the toyota vehicle 50 yards. Well, when it was my turn I was paired up against the commander; I ended up beating him with a 49.6-second time," he said laughing.

"He was a very competitive person so he ended up doing the whole thing again. He ended up doing it three times, just so he could beat my time, which he did, but it was just funny how he kept at it to beat me. It was great, because everyone was standing around cheering and all you can feel is your muscles from all the pulling, it was exhausting but one of the best times I had."

Since Petty Officer Whidbee's return to NSA, he has been selected as the Blue Jacket of the Year for 2009 and made second class petty officer (E-5) off the March 2010 exam.

"MA2 Whidbee is a stand-up Sailor, the go getter," said Master-at-Arms 1st Class Jake Moore, security department leading petty officer. "I wish I had a hundred Sailors just like him. He always has a positive attitude and never shirks any of his responsibilities. I know that if I need something to be completed, I can go to him and get the job done professionally."

This dedicated, squared away Sailor not only takes pride in his work but in his home life as well. Along with his wife and their two children, he explains that he couldn't be who he is today without them.

"I'll never forget how I met my wife. I met her on Sept. 11, 2009, through a mutual friend while I was in Iraq. We started by talking online until we finally met face-to-face Oct. 23. As soon as I saw her, I fell in love with her," he said reminiscing. "I never smiled so hard in my life! I didn't know that I would smile like that again.

"My family understands my passion for what I do and has always stood beside me and that really gives me the strength to keep going.

"I have accomplished many things, but my newest goal that I've set for myself is going to Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL School," he said. "I want to get as close to the fight as I can. I believe in the red, white and blue and I gladly stand my duties with pride while serving my country," MA2 Whidbee concluded.

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