Meet ITSA Justin Koellner, Information systems technician aboard the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower

ITSA Justin Koellner enlisted in the U.S. Navy upon graduation from Pleasant Valley Highschool. April, 4 2017.

See ITSA Koellner and two more sailors from the Quad Cities at work on the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower on Monday, May 22 on WQAD News 8 at 10 p.m.

NORFOLK, Virginia — ITSA Justin Koellner admits he wasn’t sure what he was thinking when he joined the U.S. Navy after graduating from Pleasant Valley High School.

“Looking back it doesn’t make any sense I sort of just took a chance to be honest,” said ITSA Koellner, from the hanger bay of the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower, also known as the Ike on April 4, 2017.

ITSA Justin Koellner, 19 stands in the hanger bay of the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower. April 4, 2017.

His trip to Ike was different than most. He arrived on a C2 Greyhound mid-deployment.

“It’s probably one of the coolest things I have experienced,” said ITSA Koellner, regarding his landing on the carrier.

The Ike returned from a 7-month deployment on December 30, 2016, after conducting operations in the Mediterranean and then transitioning into the Persian Gulf.

ITSA Justin Koellner works at an Information Systems Technician Senior Apprentice on board the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower. April, 4 2017.

Now, he spends time working on technology issues. When a sailor aboard can’t access his or her internet – ITSA Koellner can help.

The 19-year-old grew up in Bettendorf. He went to Pleasant Valley High School. Always good with computers, he got the job he wanted.

“Even though I am being worked a lot, my day goes by really fast,” said ITSA Koellner, “If I am having a bad day it’s over quick. I’m having a good day, I try to make it last – it’s always what you make of it,” he said.

ITSA Justin Koellner enlisted in the U.S. Navy upon graduation from Pleasant Valley Highschool. April, 4 2017.

As he walks through his job responsibilities from the Automated Data Processing (ADP) offices aboard the Ike, ITSA Koellner smiles as he compares it to a “nerd cave”.

“To be honest, and this might be me being bias, but I feel like our department is the most important because not only do we run Facebook, which is the best for keeping morale up for sailors right,” explained ITSA Koellner, “We also run the secret side, which is used the most to communicate with other ships and shore-side facilities. We also have systems that control targeting, even, which is critical for missions and navigation of the ship,” he said.

As he talks, the Ike is underway in a sustainment phase 150 miles off the coast of Norfolk, Virginia. Pilots practice launching off and landing on the 3-acre flight deck.

When ITSA Koellner first arrived to the Ike, he says he didn’t feel like he had much of a part in aircraft landing and taking off.

ITSA Justin Koellner, 19 says he wasn’t sure what to expect about life on board the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower. Now he says, he likes it; It makes him feel like he’s a part of something greater.

“I didn’t when I first got here,” he said, but now his outlook has changed. “Sort of understanding how big of a role (ADP) truly plays in all of what we do; I really do feel like I’m taking a part when I plane takes off I know that it couldn’t have happened without ADP risk control of targeting systems through the networks that we provide,” said ITSA Koellner.

For ITSA Koellner, being one of more than 5,000 sailors aboard is quite the experience,

“Honestly, feeling like I get to feel a part of something, like I am doing something greater,” he says, explaining what he likes most about being on the ship.

When it comes to home, he says he misses the landscape of Iowa.

“I miss the wide open fields of Iowa. The wide open sea take first place, but runner up is the wide open fields for sure,” said ITSA Koellner, adding that he never tires of seeing all the sights, “I never get tired of seeing the sea or the sunset or the sun rise over the ocean.”

See ITSA Koellner and two more sailors from the Quad Cities at work on the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower on Monday, May 22 on WQAD News 8 at 10 p.m.