Smithfield Native Serves as “Workhorse of the Fleet”

By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Steve Watterworth

NORFOLK – A 2013 Smithfield-Selma High School graduate and Smithfield, North Carolina, native is serving in the U.S. Navy with Assault Craft Unit TWO (ACU 2), one of the Navy’s most advanced amphibious warfare units.

Seaman James Garciareyes is an engineman with the group operating out of Virginia Beach, Virginia.

A Navy engineman is responsible for operating, maintaining, and repairing diesel engines.

“We do a lot of hands-on work. It keeps me moving, and I’m always learning more about engines,” said Garciareyes. “I also can operate small boats during any mission.”

Garciareyes credits success in the Navy to many of the lessons learned in his hometown of Smithfield.

“If you stay motivated, you end up motivating others,” said Garciareyes. “I have friends that motivate me.”

ACU 2 is one of the components of Naval Beach Group TWO (NBG 2).

Commissioned in 1948, just after World War II, NBG 2 trains and equips military forces for deployment overseas. Sailors with NBG 2 serve a vital role in the Navy our nation needs by ensuring that amphibious operations remain ready to defend and protect America at all times.

ACU 2 operates landing craft, which are specialized to transport personnel and equipment from surface ships to shore. The LCU is a displacement craft capable of carrying a payload of more than 170 tons. The LCU can be used to transport weapons systems, cargo and personnel of Marine assault units. The current LCU fleet has been in naval service since the late 1960s. Gun mounts on the craft can support .50 Cal machine guns, M240 machine guns, and 40mm grenade launchers.

The exercises and real-world operations that ACU 2 sailors participate in include evacuation of American citizens from a hostile territory, delivery of food and medical supplies after a natural disaster, and many other tasks that involve movement from ships off-shore to the beach, according to Navy officials.

“My unit has a lot of flexibility. We can help educate the community about what the Navy does and we can help deliver necessities when necessary,” said Garciareyes.

Jobs are highly specialized and keep each part of the command running smoothly, according to Navy officials. The jobs range from operating boats to maintaining engines and handling weaponry.

“The Sailors, Chiefs, and Officers of Assault Craft Unit 2 work in conjunction with other Naval Beach Group elements to grant our Amphibious Ships heavy lift and over-the-horizon, extended-duration ship-to-shore movement with the Landing Craft Utility and Maritime Pre-positioning Force boats,” said Cmdr. Thomas Mays, commanding officer, Assault Craft Unit 2. “We are proud to do our part in the Navy-Marine Corps team to project power or provide sustained assistance as needed around the world.”

Though there are many ways for a sailor to earn distinction in their command, community, and career, Garciareyes is most proud of being promoted to second class petty officer and being awarded a Navy Achievement Medal.

“It takes a great deal of hard work and dedication to get promoted,” said Garciareyes.

While serving in the Navy may present many challenges, Garciareyes said he has found many great rewards in his service.

“It is an honor to serve my country and do something that I like doing at the same time,” said Garciareyes.