USS Abraham Lincoln

A man and woman are serving on the USS Abraham Lincoln, one of the U.S. Navy’s nuclear aircraft carriers.

Every day, men and women from Northwest Missouri can be found serving their country, working to preserve America’s freedom and way of life. Two of those people are serving on the USS Abraham Lincoln, one of the U.S. Navy’s nuclear aircraft carriers.

They are a woman pursuing a career in engineering and a man with an education in mass communications.

The ship is currently undergoing Refueling and Complex Overhaul at Newport News Shipbuilding, a division of Huntington-Ingalls Industries in Newport News, Va.

The ship currently is in a Norfolk Naval Shipyard drydock undergoing what the Navy calls a four-year refueling and complex overhaul process. And one of the ship’s officers has a lot to do with this multibillion dollar operation.

Cmdr. Hannah Kriewaldt hails from St. Joseph and currently serves as the carrier’s chief engineer. A 1999 graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, she went to elementary and middle school in Albany, Mo., before her family moved to St. Joseph. She graduated from Central High School in 1995. Her brother graduated from the Naval Academy that same year and her older sister graduated in 1998.

“We’re a Navy family,” Ms. Kriewaldt said. “And I wouldn’t have the opportunities I’ve had during the last 16 years without the Navy. Being involved in the day-to-day decisions, which help determine the future of the ship and sailors, is a serious responsibility.”

Her goal and the goal of a lot of other officers on board the ship is to complete the overhaul process by the fall of 2016 and return to active fleet duty.

Petty Officer Ryan Wampler also calls St. Joseph home, although he graduated from Savannah High School in 2004. A mass communications specialist, he attended college in Columbia, Mo., and Boston before joining the Navy at age 27.

“It’s been a great experience and put me on a huge learning curve,” Mr. Wampler said.

The petty officer met the commander when he had to write a story about her. During the course of his interview, they discovered they shared a hometown connection.

Being part of the reduced crew while the Abraham Lincoln is in drydock means Mr. Wampler’s quarters are ashore even though he serves on quarterdeck watch as part of his duties.

Mr. Wampler is enrolled in an online master’s program with Webster University in St. Louis. His goal is to pursue a career as a Navy officer.

The commander still has a family back home in St. Joseph and she and her two daughters, Viktoria and Ava, may take some time in the coming year for a home visit.

Mr. Wampler hopes to return to St. Joseph in May to see his mother graduate as a nurse from North Central Missouri College in Trenton.

Marshall White can be reached at marshall.white@newspressnow.com. Follow him on Twitter: @SJNPWhite.