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    Adapt and Overcome: The YN2 Ezieme Story

    Adapt and Overcome: The YN2 Enzieme Story

    Photo By Petty Officer 3rd Class Sawyer Haskins | Yeoman 2nd Class Obiageli Ezieme poses for a photo. Ike is deployed to the U.S. 5th...... read more read more

    For some Sailors, their rate is their passion. They may have joined for a specific rate, giving their recruiter an ultimatum between their job of choice or walking out the door, or they may have chosen a rate that was offered to them and developed an affinity for the work. Sometimes, due to unfortunate circumstances, Sailors are forced out of their rate-of-choice well into their careers due to injuries or other ill-fated situations.

    Yeoman 2nd Class Obiageli Ezieme, from Nigeria, was force-converted from Aviation Boatswains Mate (Handling) (ABH) in 2018 while aboard the aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69). After spending seven years as an ABH, Ezieme said she will always have a love for her first rate.

    “Being an ABH, it’s a close-knit association,” said Ezieme. “You work long hours together, you eat together, you laugh and cry together. We get so close to each other that we see ourselves not as Sailors, but as brothers and sisters. If anything happens to one of us it affects everyone.”

    Ezieme quickly moved up in qualifications, getting her blue shirt as an airman and working on her yellow shirt aboard the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72). After coming off a nine-month deployment she took shore duty after becoming pregnant.

    “Unfortunately, when I was on shore duty I had an accident that crippled me,” said Ezieme. “I was eight months into my pregnancy and was coming into work when I slipped on black ice. It was a traumatic experience because I was worried about the safety of my baby.”

    Ezieme’s child was safely delivered, but Ezieme herself was then paralyzed from the waist down for three months. She went through a year of physical therapy and ultimately found out that she had permanent damage to her back.

    “I came back in 2018 and loved being an ABH. I missed being on the flight deck, and I had been away from the rate for a very long time,” said Ezieme. “I found out my lower back was permanently damaged. Doing my job as an ABH was restricted. We do a lot of running around and pulling and dragging. The doctor didn’t like the idea of me going back as an ABH.”

    Ezieme tried everything in her power to continue working as an ABH. She wanted to give the doctors no reason to force convert her out of her rate.

    “I came to the ship and was up for re-evaluation,” said Ezieme. “The doctor said ‘ABH3 I don’t think you will be going back to your rate.’ I kept crying because I thought it was the end of my career. I was thinking what am I going to do? I was concerned about getting another job or the things I will miss as an ABH.”

    Shortly after her re-evaluation, Ezieme was force-converted to Yeoman (YN). Faced with learning the ins-and-outs of a new job, she tackled the challenges head-on.

    “I wanted to be the best at YN,” said Ezieme. “I wanted to be a top-notch Sailor and a role model that other YNs could look at. It was difficult working with Sailors that had been in the Navy for a shorter amount of time than me and they knew their jobs more. I had to catch up.”

    After being assigned to reactor department, Ezieme had a lot of on-the-job training. She spent her time studying instructions and using her resources to the fullest to master her new rate and study for the rating exam.

    “I missed promotion by three points the first time up for advancement as YN,” said Ezieme. “I took it again in March of last year and made it by over 13 points.”

    Ezieme now works in the carrier intelligence center as the command security assistant. She is the representative between the command and the Department of Defense and manages Sailors’ security clearances aboard Ike. Ezieme said she misses the flight deck and camaraderie of her ABH brothers and sisters she used to work with.

    “The people that I used to work with are good people,” said Ezieme. “The job is dangerous and demanding. Every night before I go to bed I pray for them.”

    Accustomed to adversity, Ezieme has a message for any Sailors that could be facing their own challenges in the Navy.

    “We, as Sailors, are unique, and we will always be professionals,” said Ezieme. “We are all dynamic. Whether we are moved around to different departments or different rates, the ability to adapt makes us winners and champions.”



    Date Taken: 05.11.2020
    Date Posted: 05.11.2020 12:52
    Story ID: 369718
    Location: ARABIAN SEA

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