West Michigan native assigned to serve aboard USS Gerald R. Ford

Posted at 8:04 PM, Jul 21, 2017

NORFOLK, Va. -- Thousands of people will head to the Naval Station Norfolk Saturday for the official commissioning of the USS Gerald R. Ford.

Forty-three years after Gerald R. Ford took his oath of office, the stage is set again for another ceremony honoring the 38th President and West Michigan native.

Military members young and old, politicians, even President Donald Trump, are making their way to Virginia to officially welcome the vessel to the high seas.

And on Saturday, another West Michigan native will be there.  Petty Officer Third Class Franklen Garrett enlisted in 2013 and wanted something on shore.  That's not what he got, though.

Instead he found himself assigned to the Ford, and it's been quite a journey for him since then.

"I actually chose the farthest thing form the East Coast... the farthest thing from a carrier, and they ended up putting me on the Ford on the East Coast."

Now, the Allegan native is ready to culminate three years of training, sea trials and hard work aboard the vessel.  Work he didn't do alone.

"Being on the carrier for three years, you becdome acquainted with the crew," Garrett said. "They become almost like a big family."

The $13 billion USS Ford is the first in a new class of carriers, and features bells and whistles never before seen in the military.  But it's the name on the side of the ship, that really gets Garrett excited.

"To me, bringing it to life, putting it in the water... it just means a lot coming from Michigan," he said.

The Ford will be commissioned Saturday at Naval Station Norfolk.  FOX 17 will be live throughout the event both on air and online.