Wyoming Sailor Carries On Family Legacy
The U.S. military has a rich heritage that is honored by etched plaques and sculpted statues, and celebrated by its service members through time-honored customs and traditions. The U.S. Navy's forward-deployed aircraft carrier USS George Washington (CVN 73) is one of four ships that have been named in honor of our first president and just like its namesake; there is a Sailor within the skin of the ship who continues to make his own legacy.
"I've looked up to my father and our military heritage since I was a kid," said Aviation Ordanceman 3rd Class Jason Rognoni, from Cheyenne, Wyo. "I come from a military family whose service can be traced back to the American Civil War."
Rognoni continues his family's legacy aboard George Washington. The military lifestyle wasn't new to Rognoni, whose father, U.S. Air Force Maj. Louis Rognoni, was constantly moving the family because of his service.
"Life back home was always fast paced; always on the move every three or four years because my dad had a [permanent change station] to a different command," said Rognoni. "I always met new people and saw new places. I always tried to make a new place feel like home."
Rognoni learned at a young age to be responsible, and take care of his mother and younger sister while his dad was away.
"My father was very strict on me, always setting high expectations," said Rognoni. "I was always with my family and when he was deployed or sent to school, I was expected to be the man of the house."
To serve in the military has been a tradition for Rognoni's family; many of his relatives on both sides have served during times of war. Joining the military was a logical step for Rognoni.
"I can trace my lineage back to my mother's side, which had a relative that served in the Civil War as a Union soldier," said Rognoni. "All of the males in my family that I know have served in every war since then. In most of those wars, my family members were killed, seriously wounded, or suffered from [post-traumatic stress disorder]. Their ability to voluntarily serve their country and give everything while knowing the dangers as a true American is what motivated me to join."
Rognoni attended U.S. Air Force junior reserve officer training corps during high school to prepare for his future in the military. He also attended one year of U.S. Army reserve officer training in college.
"I always wanted to go officer, but I felt I would get more respect if I started from the very bottom," said Rognoni. "I think it's important for a leader to know what it's like to start from the enlisted ranks, so I joined the Navy enlisted."
The Rognoni family has served in all branches of the military, but his decision to join the Navy was to honor his great grandfather.
"My great grandpa Smith Rognoni passed on his Navy WWII uniform to me before he passed," said Rognoni. "It was an honor to receive a uniform from such a war where so many had given their lives. To have it turned over from a family member was an awesome feeling. That is why I joined the Navy."
Rognoni reported to George Washington in April 2011. He's received his enlisted air warfare device, enlisted surface warfare device and has even earned an associate's degree in general studies from Central Texas College.
"I want to finish more of my [shipboard] qualifications and earn my bachelor's degree," said Rognoni. "I'm re-enlisting this November and eventually I'm going to apply for [Officer Candidate School] like my father."
Rognoni is also focusing on his parenting skills. Rognoni recently proposed to his girlfriend who gave birth to his son during George Washington's mid-patrol break.
"We're both trying our best to be good parents," said Rognoni. "We're still young ourselves, so we have a lot to learn. We're both old fashioned, so hopefully our family values can rub off on our son."
With his future in tow, Rognoni is still charging hard to meet his goals and provide for his family. Rognoni hopes his legacy will be passed on just like his father and him have done.
"I'm hoping my son can pass on my family's legacy," said Rognoni. "The military lifestyle isn't for everyone, but it sure makes you appreciate what you have. I would be honored for him to join the service, but I will be a proud father regardless of his decision.
George Washington and its embarked air wing, Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 5, provide a combat-ready force that protects and defends the collective maritime interest of the U.S. and its allies and partners in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region.