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Home : News : Article Display
NEWS | Sept. 29, 2023

The Army's navy

By Airman 1st Class Olivia Bithell

To paraphrase Jules Verne, the sea is everything, pure and healthy, and the embodiment of a supernatural and wonderful existence.

            Retired Chief Warrant Officer 4 Jay DeHart, 733d Mission Support Group harbormaster, has made a career working on water.

DeHart grew up in Oregon, spending time along the coast with the goal to be a tugboat captain after high school.

            “I knocked on every tugboat company’s door in the area and remember my best friend’s dad telling me that it wasn’t going to work for me,” said DeHart. “Nobody in my family had worked on the water and I had no experience; there was no way to get in, so I started looking into the military.”

            DeHart has two older brothers that served, one of them being his recruiter.

            “I was looking at the Navy or Coast Guard and he said `I can guarantee you a job on Army boats, ′” said DeHart. “So, I came out here [to 3rd Port, Fort Eustis]”.

            Fort Eustis is home to the 7th Transportation Brigade (Expeditionary) and the 8th Transportation Brigade School, where Soldiers train and conduct multi-modal transportation operations in support of the Reception, Staging, Onward Movement, and Integration (RSOI) of joint and/or combined forces into a theater of operations.

            As the harbormaster, it is DeHart’s responsibility is to ensure all vessels ship in and out of 3rd Port safely and efficiently for the 7th TB(X) to supply the Army with troops, equipment, and supplies anywhere in the world at any time. 

“No two days are the same,” said DeHart. “I support two army brigades here. The 7th TB(X) deploys worldwide from here, so wherever you are at in the world, wherever you're at in your career, you always come back here to 3rd Port.”

According to DeHart, not only does the 3rd Port support Army maritime operations, they also assist with training other military branches, federal entities, emergency services, and humanitarian work.

“We’re doing a project down here, building new piers and part of that was cleaning up the bottom of the [James] river, and we were able to pull up 260,000 pounds of garbage; decade's worth of junk that was down there,” stated DeHart. “One of the things that was actually discovered and brought up off the bottom of the river was a Gatling gun from 1865 Navy that had fallen off a boat and was under seven feet of mud in the bottom of the river.”

DeHart expressed the joy he feels being able to assist the local area and make an impact for the base and the residents who make up the Hampton Roads area.

“We're very proud to be part of helping clean this place,” exclaimed DeHart. “It's awesome!”

Advice given from DeHart for people starting out their careers, but do not know what direction they want to go in or do not have the experience needed to get their foot in the door, is to look into the military.

“There's a lot of jobs out there, and it can be hard to get in commercially, but if you join the military, you can get that experience. Both my brothers went on to do great things based on the stuff they learned in the military.”

DeHart served 14 years enlisted,14 years as a Warrant Officer and is currently in his 13th year as a civil servant at 3rd Port. He stated that the Army provided him with a structured and fulfilling career.

“The Army gave me everything I needed: three hot meals, a cot, a paycheck, and experience. At any time, I could have got out and worked commercially, but once I got in uniform I realized this was my passion and every time it was time to re-enlist it was a no brainer; I was enjoying what I was doing too much.”