Petty Officer 2nd Class Robert Anders, a native of St. Peters, Missouri, followed his family’s tradition of military service and he joined the U.S. Navy.
“My stepfather served and he had good things to say,” Anders said. “I was the middle child, felt stuck at home and had to get out.”
Now, over a decade later and half a world away, Anders serves with Fleet Activities Sasebo, supporting the Navy’s mission one of the world’s busiest maritime regions as part of U.S. 7th Fleet.
“I think it's great. I have my family here, so I can't complain,” Anders said. “It's one of the better commands for my career. Japan is a lot safer than stateside, so it gives new military police a nice intro to the world of military law enforcement.”
Anders, a 2006 graduate of Francis Howell North High School, is a master-at-arms forward-deployed to the installation in Sasebo, Japan, the second-largest city in Nagasaki Prefecture.
“I work for the base physical security department with day-to-day responsibility for keys and locks for all of our base perimeters and maintenance on barriers,” said Anders.
Anders partially credits success in the Navy to lessons learned in Saint Peters.
“My stepfather would come in and yell ‘reveille’ on the weekends when I had something to do,” he said. “That was my first introduction to the Navy. He was a prior boatswain’s mate, I'll never forget that. Taking direction and following orders just comes kind of naturally to me. I started it when I was young and I'm still doing it today.”
U.S. 7th Fleet spans more than 124 million square kilometers, stretching from the International Date Line to the India/Pakistan border; and from the Kuril Islands in the North to the Antarctic in the South. U.S. 7th Fleet's area of operations encompasses 36 maritime countries and 50 percent of the world’s population with between 50-70 U.S. ships and submarines, 140 aircraft, and approximately 20,000 sailors.
“Sasebo’s such a small area and we work hand-in-hand with the local community," said Anders. "It’s a lot different than being stateside or anywhere else. We couldn't do it without them.”
With more than 50 percent of the world's shipping tonnage and a third of the world's crude oil passing through the region, the United States has historic and enduring interests in this part of the world. The Navy's presence in Sasebo is part of that long-standing commitment.
"The Navy is forward-deployed to provide security and strengthen relationships in a free and open Indo-Pacific. It's not just the ships and aircraft that have shown up to prevent conflict and promote peace," said Vice Adm. Phil Sawyer, commander, U.S. 7th Fleet. "It is, and will continue to be our people who define the role our Navy plays around the world. People who've made a choice, and have the will and strength of character to make a difference."
Fleet Activities Sasebo’s mission is to enable forward-deployed U.S. and allied naval forces while providing superior support to their families.
Serving in the Navy means Anders is part of a world 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.
A key element of the Navy the nation needs is tied to the fact that America is a maritime nation, and that the nation’s prosperity is tied to the ability to operate freely on the world’s oceans. More than 70 percent of the Earth’s surface is covered by water; 80 percent of the world’s population lives close to a coast; and 90 percent of all global trade by volume travels by sea.
“Our priorities center on people, capabilities and processes, and will be achieved by our focus on speed, value, results and partnerships,” said Secretary of the Navy Richard V. Spencer. “Readiness, lethality and modernization are the requirements driving these priorities.”
There are many ways for sailors to earn distinction in their command, community, and career. Anders is just happy to have met his wife while stationed in Naples in 2011.
“She was in the service, she's out now and we have two beautiful childrern together - we're a Navy family,” said Anders.
As a member of one of the U.S. Navy’s most relied upon assets, Anders and other sailors know they are part of a legacy that will last beyond their lifetimes, contributing to the Navy the nation needs.
“The Navy will give you a chance to do something you've never done before,” Anders said. “You'll see the world and become independent. You take care of yourself. By leaving your family, when you join, you get a bigger family.”