By Mass Communications Specialist 1st Class Bryan Niegel, Navy Office of Community Outreach

Millington, Tenn. – Ensign Jacob Ponchot, a native of Loveland, Ohio, is serving aboard USS Essex, a U.S. Navy Wasp class amphibious assault ship.

Ponchot joined the Navy one years ago to follow in family footsteps.

“I joined the Navy to utilize and sharpen my seafaring skills as well as explore the world and be able to see new things and experiences,” said Ponchot. “It was also an opportunity to follow in the footsteps of my grandpas, Disbursing Clerk Second Class Charles Horan and Electrician’s Mate Second Class William Ponchot.”

Ponchot grew up in Loveland, attended Loveland High School, and graduated in 2016. He earned a degree from Texas A&M University at Galveston in 2020. Today, Ponchot uses the same skills and values learned in Loveland to succeed in the military.

“Growing up in Loveland, the biggest lesson I learned is to always make time for friends and family,” said Ponchot. “Although the time I spend at home is not as much as I would like it to be, I have learned to maximize time with my loved ones whenever there is an opportunity. Military life can bring long and hard days, but there is no better remedy than time with the people we care about, and that precious time refreshes me for when the time comes to return back out to sea.”

Homeported in San Diego, California, USS Essex is the second ship in the Wasp-class of multipurpose amphibious assault ships and the fifth ship named for Essex County, Massachusetts. Essex was a 1000-ton ironclad river gunboat of the U.S. Army and later U.S. Navy during the American Civil War.

According to Navy officials, amphibious assault ships are designed to deliver U.S. Marines and their equipment where they are needed to support a variety of missions ranging from amphibious assaults to humanitarian relief efforts. Designed to be versatile, the ship has the option of simultaneously using helicopters, Harrier jets, and Landing Craft Air Cushioned, as well as conventional landing craft and assault vehicles in various combinations.

Serving in the Navy means Ponchot is part of a team 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.

While there are many opportunities for sailors to earn recognition in their command, community and careers, Ponchot is most proud of successfully completing a conning officer evolution.

“Since joining the Navy, my most proud accomplishment was successfully conning the ESSEX during an approach for an underway replenishment with an oil tanker,” said Ponchot. “To receive fuel, our ship comes alongside another ship less than 200 yards away, which is incredibly close for large seagoing vessels. This is a highly technical evolution, and I was proud to be able to execute it.”

As a member of the U.S. Navy, Ponchot, as well as other sailors, know they are a part of a service tradition providing unforgettable experiences through leadership development, world affairs and humanitarian assistance. Their efforts will have a lasting effect around the globe and for generations of sailors who will follow.

“While serving in the Navy I have learned to be flexible,” added Ponchot. “It seems more often than not, things don’t go as planned due to variable factors and that is all right. The Navy has taught me to adapt to evolving situations and have multiple plans of action prepared.”

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