YOKOSUKA, Japan – Petty Officer 3rd Class Albert Houston, a native of Mesa, knew he wanted the opportunity to do something different — something his family could be proud of — so he became the first in his family to serve in the U.S. Navy.
“They loved it, they thought it was cool,” Houston said.
Three years later and half a world away, Houston serves with Fleet Activities Yokosuka, meeting the Navy’s mission in one of the world’s busiest maritime regions and supporting U.S. 7th Fleet.
“I think it’s great to serve here,” Houston said. “It’s an opportunity a lot of people don’t get and I think they’d love to be in this position.”
Houston, a 2013 graduate of Skyline High School, is a master-at-arms forward-deployed to the installation in Yokosuka, Japan, 43 miles south of Tokyo.
On the base, he’s constantly patrolling and making sure regulations followed, ensuring entry control points are manned and maintaining sufficient security for the buildings and ships there.
Houston credits part of his success in the Navy to lessons learned playing high school football in Mesa.
“I learned you have to always be putting your best foot forward and driving for the next day,” he said. “It might suck today, but just remember that you are there for a greater purpose.”
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 Yokosuka is part of that long-standing commitment.
“The Navy is forward-deployed to provide security and strengthen relationships in a free and open Indo-Pacific. It’s not just the ships and aircraft that have shown up to prevent conflict and promote peace,” said Vice Adm. Phil Sawyer, commander, U.S. 7th Fleet. “It is, and will continue to be our people who define the role our Navy plays around the world.”
Fleet Activities Yokosuka comprises 568 acres and is located at the entrance of Tokyo Bay, approximately 18 miles south of Yokohama. It is the largest overseas U.S. Naval installation in the world and is considered to be one of the most strategically important bases in the U.S. military.
The challenge of providing extended service to the fleet overseas is met in a high operating tempo thanks to an exceptional U.S. and Japanese workforce. Yokosuka’s strategic location and support capabilities allow operating forces to be 17 days closer to locations in Asia than their counterparts based in the continental United States.
Houston is most proud of learning more about operational security and becoming a military policeman.
“You get to see and be a part of what first responders go through every day,” he said. “It feels great to know that you’re here helping everybody else out.”
“It’s a great opportunity and an honor to serve a purpose that’s bigger than you,” he said.