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Grand Rapids native carries on 123-year tradition as US Navy submariner

By Megan Viecelli

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    GRAND RAPIDS, Michigan (WXMI) — Submariners make up a small percentage of the U.S. Navy; however, they are responsible for carrying out one of the most important missions—strategic deterrence.

This service under the sea has been going on for 123 years and Grand Rapids native Petty Officer First Class Joshua Lemke is one of the sailors who help protect our country.

“Serving in the military felt like something worth doing,” Lemke told Ensign Brittany Crocker, Navy Office of Community Outreach. “My family has a long history of military service, all the way back to the 1830s.”

Lemke grew up in Grand Rapids, graduated from Forrest Hills Eastern High School in 2012 and joined the U.S. Navy ten years ago.

“I come from a fairly large city with a lot of people from diverse backgrounds and walks of life,” Lemke added. “Knowing how to interact with people from everywhere has been a leg up in my Navy career.”

He serves as an electronics technician (navigation) aboard the USS Washington.

The Navy’s submarine force is referred to as America’s “Apex Predators.”

There are three basic types of submarines:

Fast-attack: used to hunt down and destroy enemy submarines and surface ships, hit targets on shore with cruise missiles, carry and deliver Navy SEALS, conduct intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions and engage in mine warfare. Ballistic-missile: used as a strategic deterrent by providing an undetectable platform for submarine-launched ballistic missiles. Guided-missile: used for unprecedented strikes and special operations. Navy officials say strategic deterrence is the best insurance program for the United States. “The Navy is our national security. We project power all over the world and deter threats to the United States. We can’t be America without a military that defends it,” Lemke said. “While in the Navy, I’ve conducted multiple missions that have had a real-world, positive impact.”

Lemke’s grandfather, Wayne Allswede, served as his inspiration to join the military.

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