Story by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Lindsay Preston // Staff Writer
Off the coast of St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, a small remote island in the Caribbean, resides a house nestled on the hillside overlooking a bay deep enough for an aircraft carrier. It was a hot and sunny evening during the summer of 1996 when a 14-year-old boy sat on the front porch with his uncle and watched aircraft carrier USS George Washington (CVN 73) pull into port.
“My uncle served on the Washington and was very proud to call it his ship,” said Aviation Support Equipment Technician 1st Class David Crossley. “We sat for hours watching the liberty boats go back and forth, the lights go up across the flight deck and although I knew nothing was going to happen, I wanted to see a jet take off from the flight deck. My uncle explained everything in great detail — what it’s like to live on a ship and what life on the flight deck was like. It was in that moment I made the decision right then and there — I was going to join the Navy.”
Crossley joined the Navy July 27, 2000, after graduating from Charlotte Amalie High School. During the summers he held a part-time job working on car engines. When he signed up his only request was to be assigned to a rate that would allow him to get his hands dirty and work on engines. Little did he know he would also have the opportunity to work on a flight deck, an environment he had been eager to learn about for a long time.
“I didn’t know what ‘Aviation Support Equipment Technician’ meant at the time, but I felt proud just to have a title and to join the Navy,” said Crossley. “My first duty station was aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) and I was ecstatic to work on the flight deck. I advanced to third class and it was the start of my career. I knew the sky was the limit and I wanted to keep going.”
Crossley never anticipated the Navy giving him something he would cherish for the rest of his life — a best friend who shared his dreams of making the Navy a career and taking advantage of the opportunities of exploring the world together. The two met at the Wind and Sea Recreation center at Naval Station Norfolk. David and Tiffiny Crossley married on May 21, 2004.
“I was with my friends and she was with her friends and we decided to join in and play a few rounds of Spades,” said Crossley. “Norfolk was her first duty station and she was a logistics specialist assigned to [USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76)]. During the card game we learned a lot about each other and had many things in common.”
The two carried out the rest of their sea duty before Crossley transferred to Oceana and his wife transferred to the Washington, the same ship which inspired him as a child. Both Sailors continued to advance in their careers over the next several years before bringing their first child, Simone Crossley, into the world January, 2011. They hope to get stationed overseas to give their daughter a chance to see the world.
“My wife and I want to retire from the Navy some day but we will be taking slightly different paths. She is currently going through the Marine Corps Enlisted Commissioning Education Program and has a dream to become a commissioned officer,” said Crossley. “I want to stay enlisted and hopefully this year I will make chief.”
Crossley is the leading petty officer of the IM-4 division, overseeing 37 Sailors in the upkeep and maintenance of more than 1,478 pieces of aircraft support equipment to provide readiness support to the air wing.
“I love being an LPO because I am able to watch my Sailors grow and learn from each other,” said Crossley. “Everyone has different values, different ideas and a different sense of humor. What I love about the Navy is it has the ability to make Sailors from different backgrounds work together and get the job done.”
Part of this camaraderie has been a team that supports each other through challenging times. While Crossley was working out in the hangar bay, the announcement came over the One Main Circuit, April 29, that Truman was being extended for an additional 30 days.
“I immediately went to my shop to see if any of my Sailors were going to be affected by the news,” said Crossley. “To my surprise they almost seemed excited and I wanted to stay positive for them so I could set a good example. Their happiness fuels my happiness and they found a way to make the best of it. Although we are being extended, we’re out here doing a mission—as long as we know and understand that, I think we will all be fine.”