Columbia resident aboard USS Nassau briefly deployed to Haiti

Emily Merritt has dreamed of a Navy career since she was 13.
Friday, February 19, 2010 | 12:01 a.m. CST; updated 8:54 a.m. CST, Friday, February 19, 2010
Navy Ensing Emily Merritt, a native of Columbia, was apart of the USS Nassau deployment to Haiti from Jan. 23 to Feb 7.

COLUMBIA — Navy Ensign Emily Merritt of Columbia recently finished a 15-day deployment to Haiti, where the crew of the amphibious landing assault ship USS Nassau helped provide humanitarian relief.

It was a relatively quick stop during Merritt's seven-month deployment, which is her first. It will end in August. The Nassau has been deployed to the U.S. Central Command Area of Responsibility.

Although Merritt remained aboard the ship while at Haiti, she said during a telephone interview while at sea that it was nevertheless a unique experience.

“It was really neat to see our helicopters and aircrafts go there and help and hear stories of people coming back,” she said.

Merritt is a surface warfare officer on the USS Nassau, where she works in engineering. She controls the auxiliaries department, which makes fresh water, and she controls the ship’s air-conditioning and heating, two small boats used if someone falls overboard and diesel engines that serve as a backup if the ship loses power.

“It is a totally different world,” Merritt said of working on the ship. “You are around your coworkers and get very close with them. This is a large ship with thousands of people on it. There are Marines on it, too.”

It might seem odd, but Merritt said variety is her favorite part of a job that requires her to stay aboard a ship for months at a time. 

“Every day has new challenges,” she said.

Merritt said she also appreciates “the worldly impact we have, the ability to travel whether we are providing aid or security. We have so much flexibility around the world. … You can turn around and do a new mission whenever you are called to do one.”

Merritt has wanted to be in the Navy since she was 13. Her mother, Susan Scovill of Richmond, said Merritt joined the U.S. Naval Sea Cadet Corps in about the eighth grade.

“And she really loved it," Scovill said. "It seemed really natural, like the next step was to go into the Navy.”

Merritt attended MU, where she participated in ROTC. Her mother insisted that she finish college before entering the Navy.

“It has been a big dream of mine,” Merritt said. “My family and friends have been supportive, and I want to thank them.”

Merritt’s father, Norman Merritt, lives in Columbia but could not be reached for comment.

Scovill said she supported her daughter by being involved in the Sea Cadets and by helping her complete applications and secure congressional recommendations for the Naval Academy.

Scovill described the Navy as an “incredible career and a wonderful opportunity to serve (the) country.

“I’m really proud of her. … I’m proud that she’s seeing her goal. She works really hard.”

Merritt said she’s thrilled with her job.

“I really love where I am, and I love giving the United States our support,” she said.



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steveh franks February 19, 2010 | 11:53 a.m.

The world is a better place thanks to Emily Merritt. We are lucky to have her and people like her serving the USA. We all owe her our thanks and respect.

(Report Comment)
Debbie Ruthstein February 19, 2010 | 12:23 p.m.

I agree! I can only imagine how proud your family must be. Thank you.

(Report Comment)
Kenneth Teglia February 19, 2010 | 1:52 p.m.

It is very nice to hear the personal stories of young men and women that have a desire to serve our country in uniform. Well done. Being an ROTC hatched (former) Army officer, I found it even more "up my alley".

(Report Comment)
Leonard Franks February 19, 2010 | 3:00 p.m.

As a former sailor during world war 2, I was delighted to read a fine article about a bright and dedicated young lady who is following a patriotic and personal developement dream. The writer provided a clear understanding of where Emily comes from and where she intends to go. Bravo to you both.LHF

(Report Comment)
judy franks February 20, 2010 | 8:10 a.m.

This article reminds us that heroes go well beyond the individual who actually performs the rescue mission. Rather, everyone plays a part in the Haiti story. Merritt shares an important lesson for us all: she is on a ship with a few thousand co-workers, and they are all 'very close'. Do we need to work on a ship to learn this valuable lesson? Great insight!

(Report Comment)
Emily Merritt February 20, 2010 | 9:45 a.m.

Thank you everyone for your support! It really means the world to us out here.

Greetings from the Seas,

Emily Merritt

(Report Comment)
Susan Scovill February 20, 2010 | 4:57 p.m.

Thank you to the Missourian for the very nice article highlighting my daughter and her recent deployment. I want to take this opportunity to also thank the men and women who volunteer for the Naval Sea Cadet Corps-a wonderful youth organization. You taught Emily what it means to become a leader, as well as the value of being a follower. She made lifelong friends, traveled the world and found her passion. You made a real impact.

(Report Comment)
Suzi Zelinsky February 22, 2010 | 2:24 p.m.

That was a great article!!! Thank You, Emily - and thanks to all the men and women who serve our country.

(Report Comment)

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