Threlkeld gives students Navy overview

Published 11:15 am Monday, November 13, 2017

By JOYANNA LOVE/ Senior Staff Writer

Robert Threlkeld, a retired Navy Commander, presented to the Chilton County Children’s Club afterschool program at Clanton Elementary School on Nov. 10.

Threlkeld is a graduate of Verbena High School and Auburn University, where he was a part of the Navy ROTC.

Upon graduating from Auburn, he was commissioned as an officer.

“The United States Navy is great,” Threlkeld said.

He gave an overview of Naval ships and each of the ships he served on. Students were amazed to learn that an aircraft carrier has 5,000 sailors on it.

The first ship he served on was an ammunition ship.

“I got to go across the ocean to Hawaii and to Japan and the Philippines,” Threlkeld said.

He also rode helicopters “quite a bit,” while serving on this first ship.

After three years, he was stationed on the USS Saratoga.

“On this ship, I went to a lot of places,” Threlkeld said. “I went to Italy. I went to Israel. I went to France. I went through the Suez Canal to Egypt, then I went over to Singapore. I went to a little place called Diego Garcia.”

Threlkeld said he served on this ship for two years before becoming the chief engineer for a guided missile ship.

“I was the chief engineer, so I had to make sure everything worked on the ship,” Threlkeld said. “I had about 40 people that worked for of me.”

The turbines and steam engines were among the things his crew had to keep maintained.

Students asked about different parts of the ship. Threlkeld explained that the round white towers were used for radar and pointed out planes on the deck of an aircraft carrier. He showed the students a video of an airplane landing on a carrier, explaining that the planes have to catch a cord that will bring it to a stop.

Threlkeld also served on the USS Mississippi, which was nuclear powered, and the USS John Rogers. He was the second in command while serving on the USS John Rogers.

“I have been all over the world, and that was because of the Navy,” Threlkeld said. “I really enjoyed it.”

In addition to photos of each ship, Threlkeld also showed students where he ate and slept.

“We didn’t have a whole lot of space, and we had to learn to get along with one another,” Threlkeld said.