JO - Navy officer reunites with grandparents
Navy officer reunites with grandparents
INGRID BROWN, Observer staff reporter
Wednesday, May 17, 2006
Navy Officer Zakiya Walcott stands aboard the USS Monterey guided missile cruiser yesterday. (Photo: Karl McLarty)
ZAKIYA Walcott, 21, could not wait for the United States Ship (USS) Monterey, a guided missile cruiser, to dock in Jamaican waters yesterday.
The Navy petty officer had been counting down the days until she could embrace her grandparents, and her excitement grew as she caught sight of the Jamaican shoreline. The USS Monterey was calling at Jamaica's port as part of the 'Partnership of the Americas' programme.
"I was very happy when I heard they were coming here because it was really important for me to be able to come back to Jamaica to see my grandparents," a bubbly Walcott confided to the Observer yesterday.
Walcott had just returned from visiting her grandparents at their home in Bay Farm Road, Kingston. She was also eager to spend time with her cousins and aunt, and invited them to join her on board the USS Monterey to attend a special reception.
Walcott poses with family.
She was still smiling yesterday as she recounted the reunion with her grandparents - especially her grandmother. Walcott's grandmother has lost her vision since Walcott's last visit, but this did not prevent her from showering her granddaughter with attention.
"She kept feeling me to see if I was fine, and she was very happy to see me," Walcott recounted with a smile. Conceived in Jamaica and born in Queens, New York, Walcott still holds strong claim to her heritage, as she recalled her frequent visits to Jamaica as a child to visit her grandparents, aunts and cousins.
Her decision to join the navy two years ago, Walcott said, was strongly influenced by her two older brothers Errol and Earle, who are currently serving in the Navy.
A photographer by profession, Walcott told the Observer that she decided to pursue a career in the navy to further her education. She was quick to point out, however, that she was prepared if and when the occasion warrants her to be in direct combat situations.
"I am prepared to deal with it, if and when it comes," she said without hesitation. Furthermore, she pointed out that she had been warned by her brothers of such a possibility since they have both been in combat situations. Errol has 12-years service while Earle has four years.
"But I tell them I am prepared for it," Walcott added. As an operation specialist aboard the USS Monterey, Walcott deals mainly with navigational issues, and one day looks forward to becoming a master chief, which is the highest level in the army. Being black, and a female, she said, does not work against her as she is able to function just as effectively as her colleagues.
Even though it requires hard work at times, Walcott told the Observer that she enjoys travelling to new places, and has already been to countries such as Spain, Greece, Scotland and Bahrain, among others.
Walcott's aunt, Beverly Jackson who went on board to spend some time with her niece before the ship departed yesterday, told the Observer that she was extremely proud of her niece."When I saw her my heart just go out to see her in her uniform," she said.
Jackson noted that it was most fitting that her brother's children should be doing so well for themselves in the Navy, considering that he grew up in a poor family.
She said things changed for her brother after he met his wife, got married and migrated to the United States.
"He is so proud that he has three children and all of them are in the Navy, and that as young people they never got mixed up in all sorts of things," she said.
But even as she is very proud of her niece, Jackson says she can't help but worry for her, given the nature of her job. "I just worry when I hear they have to go out to some places. But I just hope for the best that she will be okay and that she won't have to go out to war," she said.