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Old Bridge native making waves in US Navy serving aboard USS Makin Island; promoted to petty officer second class

OLD BRIDGE – Following in her father’s and grandfather’s footsteps, Marie Noelle Gonzales is making waves serving in the U.S. Navy.

She was recently meritoriously promoted in rank to petty officer second class, according to a press release through the Navy Office of Community Outreach.

The Meritorious Advancement Program allows commands to select their most qualified sailors to advance in rank to the next paygrade outside of the advancement cycles, Navy officials said.

Gonzales, who joined the U.S. Navy four years ago, is serving aboard USS Makin Island.

“I joined the Navy to participate in new challenges and opportunities that are not found elsewhere,” Gonzales said. “My father, Jose-Ramon Gonzales, and grandfather, Virgilio Gonzales, had stellar careers in the Philippines Merchant Marines, so it has been an honor to join the Navy to follow in their footsteps of nautical service.”

Gonzales serves as an electronics technician. Electronics technicians use radar and other complex ship systems to detect and track threats before they detect the U.S. Navy. To throw adversaries off their ship’s scent, electronics technicians also use electronic countermeasure tricks to confuse and deflect other radars and sensors, rendering their own ship virtually invisible, according to the press release.

“My favorite thing about my job is being a subject matter expert for all Data LINKs,” Gonzales said. “Holding responsibility for mission critical communications between Naval, Marine and allied forces gives me a great sense of pride and duty.”

Growing up in Old Bridge, Gonzales attended St. John Vianney High School in Holmdel and graduated in 2009. The values required to succeed in the military are similar to those found in her hometown, Gonzales said.

“My mom, Jennifer, has always lived by sacrifice, service and perseverance,” Gonzales said. “Having her as a blueprint of courage and fortitude has ensured my mental toughness through every seemingly difficult evolution.”

USS Makin Island is the eighth and final wasp-class amphibious assault ship and the second ship in the Navy to bear the name. The USS Makin Island is unique because she’s the only ship in her class powered by LM 2500+ gas turbine engines and electric drive. Additionally, USS Makin Island is the only LHD to feature an all-electric design – no steam is used onboard USS Makin Island, according to Navy officials.

The ship is crewed by more than 1,000 sailors and can embark more than 1,600 U.S. Marines. Amphibious assault ships, such as USS Makin Island, are designed to deliver Marines and their equipment where they are needed to support a variety of missions ranging from amphibious assaults to humanitarian relief efforts. Designed to be versatile, the ship has the option of simultaneously using helicopters, Harrier jets, and Landing Craft Air Cushioned, as well as conventional landing craft and assault vehicles in various combinations, according to the press release.

Serving in the Navy means Gonzales is part of a team that is taking on new importance in America’s focus on rebuilding military readiness, strengthening alliances and reforming business practices in support of the National Defense Strategy, according to the press release.

“The Navy contributes to national defense through our ever-present global show of force,” Gonzales said. “We protect maritime shipping lines and maintain the safety of our allies by presence operations.”

There are many opportunities for sailors to earn recognition in their command, community and careers while serving in the Navy. Gonzales has a number of achievements, including becoming qualified as an enlisted surface warfare specialist, an assistant command fitness leader, a repair parts petty officer and an external communications supervisor. Gonzales said she is proud of being selected for promotion.

“I am the proudest of earning the title of Junior Sailor of the Quarter and of advancing in rank to petty officer second class through the Meritorious Advancement Program,” Gonzales said. “These accomplishments recognize the leadership and technical impact I have made on my command.”

As a member of the U.S. Navy, Gonzales, as well as other sailors, know they are “a part of a service tradition providing unforgettable experiences through leadership development, world affairs and humanitarian assistance.” Their efforts will have a lasting effect around the globe and for generations of sailors who follow, according to the press release.

“Serving in the Navy means protecting the ones I love while bettering myself,” she said.

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