Polk County High school classmates now shipmates

Published 3:38 pm Monday, June 24, 2013

Petty Officer 2 James F. Lynch and AN Michael O’Steen, 2006 Polk County High School graduates, have completed their eight month deployment aboard the USS John C. Stennis, a NIMITZ class aircraft carrier.

The USS Stennis deployed to the Persian Gulf region the end of August 2012 and returned to her homeport in Bremerton, Wash. early May 2013.

James Lynch (“Jimmy”) enlisted June 2010 while Michael O’Steen (“Mike”) enlisted April 2011. Both went through boot camp at Great Lakes, Ill.

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Following boot camp, Lynch was assigned to the Nuclear Power Training Command in Goose Creek, S.C. graduating in April 2012. The Stennis is his first ship assignment. He is an electricians mate in the reactor department.

O’Steen went from Great Lakes to Coronado, Calif., San Diego, Calif. and Pensacola, Fla. training to be a rescue swimmer for one of the air wing squadrons attached to the Stennis.

He has since cross-trained and has become a fuelie.  He is an aviation boatswain fuels mate and works on the flight deck.

Lynch and O’Steen had been communicating fairly regularly and knew they had both been assigned to the Stennis.

However, with their jobs being so different and at opposite sides of the ship (O’Steen on the flight deck and Lynch down in the bowels of the ship)  and with 6,500 people onboard, the odds of seeing each were extremely long. O’Steen found Lynch in the galley early on and they continued to see each other as their schedules permitted.

The Stennis is currently in dry dock for some much needed maintenance and repairs.

Jimmy Lynch is the son of Kim and Debbie Lynch of Columbus and the grandson of Charlie and Marjie Neff of Hendersonville, N.C. formerly of Columbus.

Mike O’Steen is the son of Mike and Allison O’Steen of Delaware, formerly of Tryon.

– article submitted by Debbie Lynch