NEW ULM - A 25-year-old U.S. Navy veteran and Martin Luther College student addressed the Veterans Day Program Monday in the Cathedral High School gym.
Inspired by his father's U.S. Army service during the Vietnam War, Nathan Scharf, a 2006 Minnesota Valley Lutheran graduate, joined the U.S. Navy after high school. Following basic training at Great Lakes, Ill., he attended training school in Pensacola, Fla., becoming an Aviation Boatswain's Mate, specializing in (aircraft carrier deck) catapults and arresting gear, launching and recovering F/A 18 Super Hornets.
Graduating at the top of his class, Scharf was hand-picked to serve on the new, nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, the USS Ronald Reagan.
Staff photo by Fritz Busch
U.S. Navy veteran Nathan Scharf of New Ulm gives the Veterans Day Program address Monday in the Cathedral High School Gymnasium.
His deployments included four months "on scene" off the North Korean coast during nuclear-capable rocket test-firing. He provided humanitarian assistance and disaster relief to the Philippine Islands after a devastating typhoon. He served two six-month deployments to the Gulf of Oman to support military operations in Afghanistan where he launched and recovered ship's aircraft that helped "root out" Taliban insurgents and protect U.S. ground forces as an (aircraft carrier deck) "hook runner."
Navy sailors working as hook runners, carry steel bars used to guide gear cables off the (aircraft carrier) flight deck after fixed-wing aircraft are recovered.
"I liked working as a hook runner because I ran behind aircraft that just landed (on the carrier deck), and directed pilots where to go," Scharf said. "Jets going 190 mph stopped abruptly, right in front of me. One day, jet blast blew me towards the runway. I stopped myself by grabbing the deck, getting some scrapes and nasty bruises, but nothing more."
Scharf said the mishap isn't uncommon for sailors working on Navy carrier decks. He was awarded a Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal for exemplary service on the carrier.
"I think of people in the military today, putting themselves in harm's way for us," he said. "Be thankful for their sacrifices."
Scharf was discharged from the Navy in 2010. He returned to New Ulm to begin a five-year primary and secondary education program at MLC.
The Veterans Day program included music by the CHS band and Concord Singers. Veterans organizations commanded by Les Wiltscheck advanced and retired the colors. Sam Arsers played "Taps."
(Fritz Busch can be e-mailed at email@example.com).