Aboard the Battleship Iowa off San Pedro, remembering those who have served, both men and women
Sheena Morris, recalling her nine years in the U.S. Navy during Monday’s Memorial Day ceremony aboard the USS Iowa off San Pedro, shared that she enlisted at the age of 17.
“My parents didn’t take it well,” she said, “but I wanted to help others and do some good.”
Motivated to join the Navy after the 9/11 terror attacks, she was the first woman in her family to join the armed forces.
Morris was one of many members of the military, veterans and members of their families who attended the celebration pier side and aboard the battleship/museum.
The celebration called on the community to honor service members who have sacrificed for the nation — both men and women.
LeahAnn Sweeney spent time Monday helping out at the Pin-Ups for Vets booth. The woman-owned, veteran-run non-profit supports hospitalized veterans.
Sweeney joined the U.S. Marine Corps at 18 and served four years. She comes from a line of veterans, but wanted to be the first marine in her family.
“I knew I wanted to be a Marine at 16,” she said, “and I picked the Marines because it was more of a challenge in terms of basic training.”
Sweeney was also drawn to the Marines because of their uniforms. She liked the colors.
Dianna Wilson, U.S. Army, had a similar path. She came from a family of male service members. She never felt pressured to enlist, but it gave her a sense of purpose. She was 20 when she joined the Army and served five years.
“My mom wasn’t thrilled but I wanted to be apart of my family tradition,” Wilson said.
Each of the women at Monday’s event played different roles in the service. Morris worked as a logistics specialist and in financial management. Sweeney worked in motor transport driving tactical trucks and providing vehicle maintenance. Wilson served with the defense language institute.
Each of them left their branches for different reasons.
Sweeney’s job division closed and she was already preparing to go to college to join law enforcement. She is now in property management with three children.
Morris wanted to pursue a career in fashion and TV hair and makeup. She currently works in that field and is married.
Entering the Army, Wilson was an athlete and basic training was pretty easy, she said. The physical demands of her training and job didn’t match her already athletic abilities. Eventually her hips wore out and she had hip surgery before departing from the Army.
Wilson works in TV production and volunteers with many veteran non-profits.
Sweeney offered a piece of advice for new service members.
“One enlistment isn’t enough, that just helps you get your feet wet. In hindsight I would have stayed longer. It helps you advance.”