Hometown Hero: Craig native Ben Winslow gets deployed to Middle East
January 6, 2014
Craig native Ben Winslow's current goal is to spend as much time with his wife as possible before he is deployed to the Middle East next month.
The Moffat County High School graduate is a jet mechanic for the Navy and will spend 10 months on an aircraft carrier starting in February.
He and his wife, Carli Winslow, spent the holidays with their families in Craig before the couple headed back to Virginia Beach, Va., where they will remain until his deployment starts. During his absence, Carli, who attended the Art Institute in Virginia Beach, will return to Craig to pursue her photography career and also help in the family business.
The young couple was married Dec. 28, 2012, and they both speak highly of their parents who live in Craig.
Carli, 18, is the daughter of JW Snacks owners Terri and Danny Griffith, and Ben's folks are Jeff and Larri Winslow who beam with pride about their son's accomplishments.
Ben, 20, has set a fast-paced career for himself in the Navy since he joined in May 2012.
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After Navy Boot Camp in Great Lakes, Ill., Ben went to A School in Pensacola, Fla. He is now an Aviation Machinist's Mate attached to VFA-87. In under one year, Ben achieved the rank of E4, Petty Officer Third Class, as well as earning his "wings" for Enlisted Air Warfare Specialist.
Ben received the honor of Plane Captain of the Month twice in 2013 and was named Plane Captain of the Year for 2013 — an award that recognizes exemplary performance, professional conduct and positive attitude. He also received two Navy Achievement Medals.
He understands the importance of his job, and he takes his responsibilities very seriously. The work that he conducts on jets has vital importance to the Navy.
"It's half the pilot and half the people that work on the aircraft. If the jet doesn't work, then we can't carry out the mission that we're trying to do. There's a lot of responsibility making sure it's done correctly and done on time," Ben said. "You're the first and last set of eyes to look at the jet. If there's something messed up with that jet, and you launch that jet off and it breaks, that's somebody's life that's right in your hands. It's a very important job."
Ben lived in Virginia Beach prior to marrying his high school sweetheart, Carli. He asked her parents for her hand in marriage through Skype, Carli said.
"My parents were sitting in our oversized loved seat," she said. "I sat down between my parents, and he gives this big long speech and my dad said, 'Yeah, I'm OK with that.'"
Carli was only 17 at the time, but both of their parents saw them as a successful match.
"So I flew out to Virginia Christmas break, my senior year and we got married in the courthouse," Carli said. "We took my computer and we had our families on Skype, and my dad had it on the big screen at JWs. All of our family and friends sat at JWs, so they were able to watch us get married officially."
Living in Virginia Beach has been an interesting transition for the couple who were used to the quiet, small-town life. Virginia Beach is a huge tourist town, bustling with activity and noise.
Carli works at a barbecue restaurant, which she thinks is amusing considering that her parents own a barbecue joint in Craig.
The young, happy couple sees it as an exciting adventure.
"If you can leave from where you came from and go explore, it makes you a better person," Ben said.
And the adventure is about to reach a whole new level with Ben's deployment around the corner.
"I'm really excited to go and do what I joined to do, but at the same time, it's going to be hard leaving her," he said.
He plans on keeping Carli and his loved ones informed about his well-being via email while he's gone.
Contact Noelle Leavitt Riley at 970-875-1790 or nriley@CraigDailyPress.com.