Albany Native Supports the Future of the Navy

Jerry Jimenez, Navy Office of Community Outreach

Friday, August 5th, 2022

Sailors are some of the most highly-trained people on the planet, according to Navy officials, and at Recruit Training Command (RTC), otherwise known as “boot camp,” these skills are taught by hard-charging, Navy professionals who transforms civilians into disciplined, qualified U.S Navy sailors.

Lt. Donny James II, a native of Albany, Georgia, plays an important role at RTC, supporting these sailors as a surface engineer limited duty officer.

James is responsible for managing instructors who provide training for new recruits. 

James, a 2003 graduate of Sol C Johnson High School in Savannah, Georgia, joined the Navy 19 years ago.

“I joined to accelerate my life and be part of something bigger than myself,” said James. 

According to James, the values required to succeed in the Navy are similar to those found in Albany. 

“I learned if you're going to do something, do it all the way,” said James. 

In 1994, RTC Great Lakes became the Navy's only recruit training facility. The mission of RTC is to transform civilians into smartly disciplined, physically fit, basically trained Sailors who are ready for follow-on training and service to the fleet while instilling in them the highest standards of Honor, Courage, and Commitment. 

Recruit training involves a change in the mental and physical capacity of the new recruit, according Navy officials. From the first day at RTC through graduation day when new sailors board the bus to depart, recruits find themselves in a whirl of activity. Every recruit entering the Navy today will remember RTC as their introduction to Navy life.

Bootcamp is approximately eight weeks and all enlistees into the U.S. Navy begin their careers at the command. Their basic training curriculum is comprised of five core competencies: firefighting & damage control, seamanship, watch standing, and physical fitness. Through a hands-on learning approach, recruits ‘train how they fight’ and receive critical warfighting skills during the sailor development process. The command consists of more than 1,100 staff members, with an average of 6,000 recruits in training at any time. 

Jobs are highly varied at RTC, both sailors and civilians work together to keep the command running smoothly – this includes coordinating public affairs events, religious ministries and providing administrative and logistic support. 

With more than 90 percent of all trade traveling by sea, and 95 percent of the world’s international phone and internet traffic carried through fiber optic cables lying on the ocean floor, Navy officials continue to emphasize that the prosperity and security of the United States is directly linked to a strong and ready Navy. 

According to Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Mike Gilday, four priorities will focus efforts on sailors, readiness, capabilities, and capacity. 

“For 245 years, in both calm and rough waters, our Navy has stood the watch to protect the homeland, preserve freedom of the seas, and defend our way of life,” said Gilday. “The decisions and investments we make this decade will set the maritime balance of power for the rest of this century. We can accept nothing less than success.”

Serving in the Navy means James 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.

“The Navy is the primary source of global sea power,” said James. 

James and the sailors they serve with have many opportunities to achieve accomplishments during their military service.

“I’m most proud of getting commissioned as a Naval officer,” said James.

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

“I have an opportunity to serve in various leadership roles,” added James. “I’m always being encouraged to grow. I get to be an example and role model for others to follow.”