Family inspires Victoria native to serve
Published 9:19 pm Friday, February 24, 2017
A 2008 Central High School graduate and Victoria native is serving in the U.S. Navy aboard U.S. Naval Hospital Ship Mercy.
Petty Officer Second Class Walter Johnson is a hospital corpsman assigned to the hospital ship, which is homeported in San Diego. Mercy provides emergency, on-site care for U.S. combatant forces deployed in war or other operations.
“Since I have been serving on the Mercy for awhile now, I am getting to teach incoming sailors more,” Johnson said. “I get to teach people how to provide healthcare while at sea because it is very different than being in a normal hospital. I like getting everyone involved with what we do.”
Capt. Peter Roberts, commanding officer of the Medical Treatment Facility (MTF), said that while “Mercy has tremendous capabilities and capacity, the heart of the ship is her crew.”
“They make her a truly incredible asset in worldwide medical response,” Roberts said. “From the core crew charged with keeping her always ready to the greater than 1,000 sailors that come aboard at a moment’s notice, they all bring an incredible passion and their own specific talent.”
Mercy has 12 fully-equipped operating rooms, a 1,000-bed hospital facility, digital radiological services, a medical laboratory, a pharmacy, an optometry lab, a CAT-scan and two oxygen-producing plants. The ship is equipped with a helicopter deck, capable of landing large military helicopters and side ports that allow it to take on patients at sea.
Sailors assigned to Mercy also provide mobile surgical hospital services during humanitarian civic assistance operations.
Sailors deploy to lend assistance as part of humanitarian assistance and disaster relief efforts.
“The best part of serving aboard the Mercy is getting to travel around the world and being able to go to countries that love us,” Johnson said. “It’s simple things that we can take for granted in America, like an old man getting new glasses or someone having their blood pressure checked. They are so appreciative and always smile, hug you and say thank you.”
When Mercy is not at sea, sailors serve at military treatment facilities, where they provide patient-centered medical care for veterans, service members and their families.
“I joined the military because my dad’s side of the family has a long history of serving,” added Johnson. “Growing up in a military environment, I wanted to carry on that tradition.”