Rocky Mount native trains sailors for naval service


Petty Officer 1st Class James Riley


From Contributed Reports

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Sailors are some of the most highly-trained people on the planet, according to Navy officials, and this training requires highly-dedicated instructors.

At Naval Education and Training Command, this obligation falls upon hard-charging, Navy professionals who train and mentor the Navy’s future warfighters.

Petty Officer 1st Class James Riley, a native of Rocky Mount, is an instructor at NETC, providing the fleet with sailors who possess the basic technical knowledge and skills necessary for naval service.

“A lot of people don’t understand what we really do,” Riley said. “Most of these sailors do not have a lot of life experience, so it's my responsibility to teach them that sometimes life is not fair and you have to learn how to overcome obstacles in your life.”

Instructors are experts in the subject matter they teach, and they provide cutting-edge technical training that transforms civilians into mission-ready sailors.

Riley, a 1985 graduate of Rocky Mount High School, credits success as an instructor to many of the lessons he learned growing up in Rocky Mount.

“A vast majority of my students come from high school and I have more of an advantage, because I had a job in high school and I lived on my own for a number of years before I joined the military,” Riley said. “I bring that life experience to lessons learned for the accessions of the sailors.”

NETC educates and trains those who serve our nation, taking them from street-to-fleet by transforming civilians into highly skilled, operational and combat-ready warfighters, while providing the tools and opportunities for continuous learning and development.

NETC is made up of six commands that provide a continuum of professional education and training in support of Surface Navy requirements that prepare enlisted sailors and officers to serve at sea, providing apprentice and specialized skills training to 7,500 sailors a year.

A key element of the Navy the nation needs is tied to the fact that America is a maritime nation, and that the nation’s prosperity is tied to the ability to operate freely on the world’s oceans. More than 70 percent of the Earth’s surface is covered by water; 80 percent of the world’s population lives close to a coast; and 90 percent of all global trade by volume travels by sea.

Riley plays an important role in America’s focus on rebuilding military readiness, strengthening alliances and reforming business practices in support of National Defense Strategy.

“Our priorities center on people, capabilities and processes and will be achieved by our focus on speed, value, results and partnerships,” said Secretary of the Navy Richard V. Spencer. “Readiness, lethality and modernization are the requirements driving these priorities.”

Though there are many ways for sailors to earn distinction in their command, community and career, Riley is most proud of receiving his Navy Military Training certification and the 22 sailors he mentored and trained that have advanced in rank.

“Receiving my NMIT certification is recognition of my 10 years of instructor service," Riley said. "This service for this many years is rare and hard to accomplish.”

Serving in the Navy is a continuing tradition of military service for Riley, who has military ties with family members who have previously served. Riley is honored to carry on the family tradition.

“My grandfather and six brothers served in all military branches during WWII,” Riley said. “My father served in Vietnam in the sea of Japan. I am carrying on the legacy of protecting this country from all enemies foreign and domestic.”

As a member of one of the U.S. Navy’s most relied-upon assets, Riley and other instructors know they are part of a legacy that will last beyond their lifetimes providing the Navy the nation needs.

“There is no greater cause than defending the Constitution,” Riley said. “It is the highest calling to secure liberty and freedom for your fellow citizens.”