Canyon Country native serves aboard USS Hershel ‘Woody’ Williams

Petty Officer 3rd Class Jose Cortez, of Canyon Country, serves as a gunner’s mate aboard the USS Hershel “Woody” Williams. Courtesy photo

By Stephanie Fox 
Navy Office of Community Outreach 

CAPE TOWN, South Africa – A Canyon Country native is serving aboard USS Hershel “Woody” Williams, a U.S. Navy Lewis B. Puller-class expeditionary mobile base. 

Petty Officer 3rd Class Jose Cortez is a 2008 Canyon High School graduate. Today, Cortez serves as a gunner’s mate. 

“Gunner’s mates operate, perform and coordinate maintenance on guided missile launching systems, missile launching groups, guns, gun mounts, small arms and torpedoes,” said Cortez. “We also supervise personnel in small arms qualifications; we inspect and direct repair of magazines and ammunition stowage space.” 

Cortez joined the Navy four years ago for the opportunities the military offers. 

“I joined the Navy to travel and further my education while serving my country,” Cortez said. 

According to Cortez, the values required to succeed in the Navy are similar to those found in Canyon Country. 

“Working at my hometown shooting range helped me with my transition to being a gunner’s mate,” Cortez said. “It taught me proper weapons handling, safety, maintenance and marksmanship.” 

USS Hershel “Woody” Williams’ namesake was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor by President Truman for his actions at the Battle of Iwo Jima during World War II. 

Though there are many opportunities for sailors to earn recognition in their command, community and careers, Cortez is most proud of contributing to the team. 

“The accomplishment I am most proud of is taking part in the commissioning of the USS Hershel ‘Woody’ Williams,” said Cortez. “To me, serving in the Navy means having a second family… It is the shared experiences: good and bad. This family is developed when we serve side-by-side, and these connections will stay with us for the rest of our lives.”

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