King George native serves aboard soon-to-be U.S. Navy’s newest ship

by | Feb 26, 2023 | Military

By Lt. Cmdr. Ryan Murtha, Navy Office of Community Outreach

SAN DIEGO – Seaman Jayla McKnight, a native of King George, Virginia, serves with pre-commissioning unit (PCU) John L. Canley, operating out of San Diego, California.

McKnight, a 2020 King George High School graduate, joined the Navy one year ago.

“I was in Navy Junior ROTC and enjoyed it,” said McKnight. “I learned what the military did, which was to help people. It also gives us an opportunity to give back to those in need.”

Skills and values learned in the Navy are similar to those found in King George.

“I learned to work hard and never quit,” said McKnight. “I learned that pain is only temporary, but quitting lasts a lifetime.”

PCU is a designation used by the U.S. Navy to describe crews aboard vessels under construction prior to official commissioning. John L. Canley was named after Sgt. Maj. John L. Canley, a United States Marine and a recipient of the United States military’s highest award for valor, the Medal of Honor, for his actions in 1968 during the Battle of Hué City.

John L. Canley is an Expeditionary Sea Base ship that is highly flexible and may be used across a broad range of military operations. Acting as a mobile sea base, these ships are part of the critical access infrastructure that supports the deployment of forces and supplies to provide prepositioned equipment and sustainment with flexible distribution.

“Our Sailors are some of the finest this nation has to offer, each going through a rigorous screening process and a long training and build-up phase before we deliver to the fleet,” said Captain Thomas A. Mays, Commanding Officer of PCU John L. Canley, Blue Crew. “They have each embraced the selfless example of Sgt. Maj. Canley and his ‘Courage Under Fire.’ They’re exactly who we need to ensure the next 40 years of service and mission success.”

With 90 percent of global commerce traveling by sea and access to the internet relying on the security of undersea fiber optic cables, Navy officials continue to emphasize that the prosperity of the United States is directly linked to trained sailors and a strong Navy.

“Our mission remains timeless – to provide our fellow citizens with nothing less than the very best Navy: fully combat ready at all times, focused on warfighting excellence, and committed to superior leadership at every single level,” said Adm. Mike Gilday, Chief of Naval Operations. “This is our calling. And I cannot imagine a calling more worthy.”

As a member of the Navy, McKnight is part of a world-class organization focused on maintaining maritime dominance, strengthening partnerships, increasing competitive warfighting capabilities and sustaining combat-ready forces in support of the National Defense Strategy.

“The world is mostly water,” said McKnight. “We have so many ships at our disposal which are filled with well-trained sailors that can rise to any challenge.”

McKnight has many opportunities to achieve accomplishments during military service.

“I was privileged to walk with Lance Massey, whose father was on the USS Midway during World War II,” said McKnight. “I was able to talk with the family and be with them for a day on the USS Midway, and get to know them and how he helped our country.”

As Mcknight and other sailors continue to perform missions, they take pride in serving their country in the United States Navy.

“I’m giving back,” said Mcknight. “Both of my parents grew up less fortunate than me. My service is my way of thanking them for everything they gave up for me. Hopefully, I will create opportunities for others in the future.”

McKnight is grateful to others for helping make a Navy career possible.

“I want to thank my mom and pops,” said McKnight. “My mom taught us there is no “can’t.” As long as you keep going and moving forward, anything is possible.”

“My pops served in the Army for eight years and is the reason I wanted to join the military,” added McKnight. “He helps keep me motivated when I feel down. He literally sets me on my path.”

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