Harlingen native serving in Japan with U.S. Navy

SASEBO, JAPAN — A 2015 Harlingen High School graduate is serving in Japan in the U.S. Navy aboard the USS Germantown.

Seaman Cohen Reyes is an operations specialist aboard the ship operating out of Sasebo, Japan.

A Navy operations specialist is responsible for operating the communications, radar, and navigation equipment that tracks ships, aircraft, and enemy missiles and communicates tactical information to supervisors and other operators.

Cohen, the son of Rico Reyes and Leilani De la Fuente, is proud to serve in the Pacific and fondly recalls memories of Harlingen.

“My grandfather was a senior chief in the Navy,” Cohen said about Leonel De La Fuente. “He always told me to keep my head up. Don’t let other opinions change my own, it helps me form my own opinion. I enjoy the Navy because it forces me being out here on my own.”

Moments like that makes it worth serving around the world ready at all times to defend America’s interests. With more than 50 percent of the world’s shipping tonnage and a third of the world’s crude oil passing through the region, the United States has historic and enduring interests in this part of the world. The Navy’s presence in Sasebo is part of that long-standing commitment, explained Navy officials.

Commissioned in 1986, Germantown is the second Navy ship named after the Revolutionary War Battle of Germantown.

With a crew of more than 900 sailors and Marines, Germantown is 609 feet long and weighs approximately 16,000 tons. Designed specifically to operate landing craft air cushion small craft vessels, Whidbey Island-class dock landing ships have the largest capacity for these landing craft out of any U.S. Navy amphibious ship.

“I enjoy the schedule, I enjoy being forward deployed here,” Cohen said. “I enjoy Japan. The people are friendly, they go out of their way to help you out.”

As a member of one of the U.S. Navy’s most relied-upon assets, Reyes and other sailors know they are part of a legacy that will last beyond their lifetimes providing the Navy the nation needs.

“Joining the Navy has helped me shape myself into a young man,” said Reyes. “It’s taught me responsibility.”

Cohen’s grandparents are Leonel and Rosa De La Fuente and Raul and Elizabeth Reyes.