Ever since he was a boy, Robert Stallcup knew he wanted to fly.
"Every time the jets would fly over the house, I would tell him, 'If you want to fly one of those, you can. You can do anything you want to do,'" his father, Robert "Bobby" Stallcup Sr., said.
At 17, shortly after his family moved away from Hesperia and Sultana High School to Shawnee, Okla., the younger Stallcup enlisted in the Navy as a junior in high school and joined up after graduation. Recently married, he now calls Virginia Beach home.
"I loved the (idea) of landing a jet on a boat. The Naval aviators are known to be the wild boys of aviation and I liked that," he said. "I also love the beach, so being stationed by the beach was definitely an added bonus with the Navy."
The admiration goes both ways: On May 14, Stallcup was nominated by his peers out of the 5,000 sailors aboard the USS Enterprise aircraft carrier and named Sailor of the Day by Capt. William C. Hamilton, Jr. The Enterprise, the world's first nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, is deployed to the Persian Gulf, Red Sea, Arabian Sea and coast off East Africa conducting security operations and support missions as part of Operation Enduring Freedom.
Seaman Stallcup, 21, is a quartermaster serving with the ship's navigation team. He's assigned to the bridge, working with Hamilton and bridge officers, standing watch and creating navigational charts. He's also one of four sailors on the ship qualified to drive the ship in the tightest quarters, like maneuvering within 200 feet of another ship while resupplying.
It's a long way from the High Desert or the plains of Oklahoma to the waters of the Persian Gulf, but Stallcup enjoys the life aboard ship.
"Compared to civilian life, life onboard a ship is limited," he said. "You have what the ship has. You don't have all the luxuries that you're used to. You work, stand watch, maybe have some time to yourself to go to the gym or do laundry or whatever you do. Then go to sleep and wake up and do it all over again for seven months.
"Life gets very routine at sea," he continued. "You do the same thing every day with minimal change. The ship has things they do to keep morale up, like the Big E Idol singing competition, or when we're at sea for a long time we will have a steel beach picnic, which is a barbecue and kind of a 'hang out and play football or do whatever relax' day on the flight deck. ... Ship life isn't terrible, the Navy does an amazing job making sure we have what we need, and we have port visits all over the world."
But as great as life aboard the Enterprise has been, Stallcup hasn't forgotten about wanting to fly those jets that land on deck.
"I plan on getting out next year and attending college and then coming back into the Navy to go to flight school to become a Naval Aviator and fulfill my dream," he said.
Stallcup learned to fly a plane before graduating high school.
"The Navy definitely was a good choice for me," he said. "It gave me experience, knowledge and motivation to conquer anything I put my mind to. I love my country and I am proud to be an American."
"He's a great kid, he's just awesome," Stallcup Sr. said. "He makes me feel proud."