By Lt. Omari Faulkner
Navy Office of Community Outreach
NORFOLK, Va. – A Willingboro, New Jersey, native is participating in the Large-Scale Exercise (LSE 2021) aboard USS Whidbey Island (LSD 41), a U.S. Navy warship that transports and launches Marines from sea to shore as part of amphibious assault operations.
Petty Officer 3rd Class Imani Taylor-Handy, a 2013 Willingboro High School graduate, joined the Navy two years ago.
“I wanted the opportunity to travel to many places around the globe and continue my education,” said Taylor-Handy.
According to Taylor-Handy, the values required to succeed in the military are similar to those found in Willingboro.
“I learned that there were so many other places I can travel to,” said Taylor-Handy.
LSE 2021 demonstrates the Navy’s ability to employ precise, lethal, and overwhelming force globally across three naval component commands, five numbered fleets, and 17 time zones. LSE 2021 merges live and synthetic training capabilities to create an intense, robust training environment. It will connect high-fidelity training and real-world operations, to build knowledge and skills needed in today’s complex, multi-domain, and contested environment.
“During Large Scale Exercise 21, USS Whidbey Island demonstrated enhanced medical capabilities while seamlessly integrating our Fleet Surgical Team,” said commanding officer of USS Whidbey Island, Cmdr. Kristel Anne O’Canas. This critical mission set will allow a dynamic force employment in the Surface Fleet by expanding medical care capacity across various surface combatants.”
Whidbey Island is designed to deliver Marines and their equipment in support of amphibious operations including landings via Landing Craft, Air Cushion (LCAC), conventional landing craft and helicopters, onto hostile shores.
Homeported in Little Creek, Virginia, Whidbey Island is longer than two football fields at 610 feet. The ship is 84 feet wide and weighs more than 16,000 tons. It has four diesel engines that can push the ship through the water in excess of 25 mph.
Serving in the Navy means Taylor-Handy is part of a world that is taking on new importance in America’s focus on rebuilding military readiness, strengthening alliances and reforming business practices in support of the National Defense Strategy.
“The Navy is vital to the protection of the seas, both at home and abroad,” said Taylor-Handy.
With more than 90 percent of all trade traveling by sea, and 95 percent of the world’s international phone and internet traffic carried through fiber optic cables lying on the ocean floor, Navy officials continue to emphasize that the prosperity and security of the United States is directly linked to a strong and ready Navy.
As a member of the U.S. Navy, Taylor-Handy as well as other sailors, know they are a part of a service tradition providing unforgettable experiences through leadership development, world affairs and humanitarian assistance. Their efforts will have a lasting effect around the globe and for generations of sailors who will follow.
“Serving is a stepping stone to something greater in life, and I am grateful for the opportunity,” added Taylor-Handy.
Steve Lubetkin is the news director for StateBroadcastNews.com. Steve’s journalism background includes print and broadcast reporting for NJ news organizations. He refocused on multimedia journalism and podcast production after a long career in corporate branded journalism and public relations.
He has won numerous awards for his audio and video news reporting from the Garden State Journalists Association, and he has also been recognized for video by the New Jersey Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. He has produced a wide range of audio and video podcasts in his other role as managing partner of State Broadcast News’s parent, The Lubetkin Media Companies.
Steve is co-author, with Toronto-based podcasting pioneer Donna Papacosta, of the book, The Business of Podcasting: How to Take Your Podcasting Passion from the Personal to the Professional.
In March 2021, he was elected to the board of directors of the New Jersey Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists, and in July 2021 he was named secretary of the chapter. In August 2021, he was honored by SPJ with one of the organization’s 2021 Howard S. Dubin Outstanding Pro Member Awards, given to regular members of an SPJ chapter who go above and beyond in serving their chapter.
Steve has been the computer columnist for the Jewish Community Voice of Southern New Jersey, since 1996.
Steve also has reported on-camera and produces virtual conferences for NJSpotlightNews.org, a public policy news coverage website focused on New Jersey government and industry; and for clients of StateBroadcastNews.com, a division of The Lubetkin Media Companies LLC.
From May-November 2019, he produced and reported a weekly podcast, The CRE News Hour, a news and features program focusing on the commercial real estate industry.
From 2014 to 2019 he was New Jersey and Philadelphia editor for GlobeSt.com and filled in covering Chicago/Midwest and Atlanta.
Steve has also served (from August 2017 to March 2018) as national broadcast news correspondent for CEOReport.com, a news website focused on practical advice for senior executives in small- and medium-sized companies.
Earlier in his career, Steve reported on rock music at the Jersey Shore for the Asbury Park Press, and was a broadcast news anchor and production engineer for WJLK-AM & FM, then owned by the Press. He also worked as a general assignment reporter for the Red Bank Register, Shrewsbury, NJ.
You can email Steve at firstname.lastname@example.org.