As American celebrates independence, Ludington native serves aboard Navy’s oldest commissioned warship

June 28, 2023

As American celebrates independence, Ludington native serves aboard Navy’s oldest commissioned warship

By Megan Brown, Navy Office of Community Outreach

BOSTON – Petty Officer 1st Class Blake Bentz, a Ludington native, is one of nearly 80 sailors celebrating America’s 246 years of independence while serving aboard USS Constitution.

Bentz, a 2015 Ludington High School graduate, joined the Navy eight years ago.

Today Bentz serves as a culinary specialist.

“I joined the Navy to become self-sufficient and to explore the world,” said Bentz. “My grandfather was also in the Navy, so I followed in his footsteps”

Skills and values similar to those found in Ludington are important to succeed in the military.

“My senior year in high school I did a ProStart program with the college where I learned how to cook in a culinary class,” said Bentz. “After that, I talked to a recruiter and I told them I wanted to be a cook in the Navy.”

USS Constitution is the U.S. Navy’s oldest commissioned warship, and the crew is hand-picked to promote naval history and maritime heritage while raising awareness of the importance of a sustained naval presence.

The ship earned the nickname Old Ironsides during the War of 1812 after British cannonballs were seen bouncing off the ship’s wooden hull. USS Constitution was undefeated in battle and captured or destroyed 33 enemy vessels.

With 90 percent of global commerce traveling by sea and access to the internet relying on the security of undersea fiber optic cables, Navy officials continue to emphasize that the prosperity of the United States is directly linked to trained sailors and a strong Navy.

“Our mission remains timeless — to provide our fellow citizens with nothing less than the very best Navy: fully combat ready at all times, focused on warfighting excellence, and committed to superior leadership at every single level,” said Adm. Mike Gilday, Chief of Naval Operations. “This is our calling. And I cannot imagine a calling more worthy.”

As a member of the Navy, Bentz is part of a world-class organization focused on maintaining maritime dominance, strengthening partnerships, increasing competitive warfighting capabilities and sustaining combat-ready forces in support of the National Defense Strategy.

“Being deployed made me realize how important the Navy’s presence is to national security,” said Bentz. “Our carrier’s presence on deployment ensured the shipping lanes stayed open and the only way to do that is with the Navy.”

As Bentz and other sailors continue to train and perform missions, they take pride in serving their country in the United States Navy.

“Serving in the Navy means I am a part of something bigger than myself,” said Bentz. “Since joining the Navy, I have learned so much about the world that I wouldn’t have known about otherwise. The Navy has opened my eyes to so many different cultures and ways of life.”

Bentz is grateful to others for helping make a Navy career possible.

“I want to thank both Master Chief Frierson and Master Chief McClarn because they have had the two biggest impacts on my Navy career and have kept me on the straight and narrow,” added Bentz.

  • Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class James Green, Navy Office of Community Outreach