Story by: Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Devon Dow
Navy Public Affairs Support Element West Det. Japan
WESTERN PACIFIC OCEAN - For Mineman Seaman Kyle Walker, 21, and Tyler Packard, 20, both assigned to the USS Patriot (MCM 7) their friendship began long before their lives as forward deployed Sailors.
Try Valley View Elementary in Roy, Utah…1st grade, Ms. Powell’s class.
“Every time Tyler or myself tells anyone in the Navy how long we have known each other they are either shocked, or simply say they can’t believe it, but its true,” Walker said with a smile.
Today, the two Utah natives are Navy mineman assigned to one of the four U.S. Navy mine countermeasures ships forward deployed to Sasebo, Japan, USS Patriot (MCM 7). As mineman, they are specialized in hunting, sweeping and neutralizing mines that endanger maritime travel.
When they were children, the two friends lived less than one mile from one another until Walker and his family moved to Morgan. Despite this move, their friendship remained in tact. Today they live less than 10 feet from one another in a U.S. Navy ship’s berthing space and are more than 6,000 miles away from home.
“After we finished high school we thought about what direction we wanted our lives to go in and what we wanted to accomplished,” said Packard. “Immediately we both thought the Navy could offer us what we looking for, adventure, new experiences, and service to our community.”
“When we talked to the recruiter he gave us good information about the mineman rating, informed us about the community’s size and how they operated underway, it was exciting” said Walker. “After making the decision to join, we had hopes of being stationed near one another, being on the same ship? We thought it would be a long shot.”
Following their completion of basic training in Great Lakes, Ill., Walker and Packard reported to mineman “A” school at Naval Base Point Loma in San Diego. It was there that Walker and Packard began talking about being stationed overseas.
“We had an instructor who had just returned from Japan and he had nothing but good things to say about it,” said Walker. “It was really exciting to even imagine that we could get orders right out of school to Japan.”
When Packard graduated from “A” school he received orders to report to the USS Patriot on Dec. 9, 2011. Exactly one week later, Walker, who was named the honor graduate of his class, reported to USS Patriot.
The two friends had managed to accomplish what they thought was nearly impossible.
“We couldn’t believe it at first but we were very happy with the situation,” Packard said. “Living overseas and serving your country alongside your best friend? You just can’t beat that.”
On Jan. 24, the USS Patriot got underway from Commander Fleet Activities Sasebo to begin its patrol in the 7th Fleet area of operations. Walker and Packard experienced the first port visit of their Navy career when the ship visited the coastal city of Takamatsu, Japan from Jan. 27- Jan. 31.
The two friends agree that their experiences in the Navy thus far have been rewarding.
“Since entering the Navy I have become more confident and gained more respect for others and myself,” says Parker. “When I call back home my family and friends say they can sense a new level of maturity in me, I can feel it.”
“While I get the opportunity to be in the Navy with a great friend I have known most of my life, the USS Patriot crew was very welcoming when I arrived,” Walker said. “I have a feeling we are going to make many friendships in the Navy that are going to be special.”
Kyle Walker is the son of Tara Lamon and the late Dan Walker of Mogan.
Tyler Packard, son of Kevin and Lisa Packard, also has ties to Morgan. Tyler is the grandson of the late Gary Packard. Great grandparents were the late Willis and Dorothy Packard.