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Local sailing the world for a living
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Liberty County native Elizabeth Irby joined the Navy after high school and currently works aboard the USS Ronald Reagan. - photo by Photo provided.
Getting paid to travel the world and visit places like Singapore, Dubai, Thailand, Hong Kong and Hawaii may sound like the grand prize on a game show or a millionaire’s sabbatical, but for one Liberty County native, it’s just life.  
Elizabeth Irby, a 2007 Liberty County High graduate, joined the Navy after school “to see the world and support our troops.”
Irby  has accomplished both of those goals, visiting port cities around the globe and launching aircraft that provide support for troops in Afghanistan.  
Aviation Boatswain’s Mate (Equipment) Airman Irby works on the flight deck of the USS Ronald Reagan, the world’s largest aircraft carrier, as a catapult operator.  
The carrier has a population of 4,500 people, six restaurants, a library, a movie theater and its own zip code. The USS Ronald Reagan is a 97,000-ton, 1,092-foot long, floating city.
The ship is home to Irby, both at sea and at its home port in the United States.    
As a catapult operator, her job is to ensure the carrier’s aircraft, including the F18 Hornet, EA6B Prowler and the E2C Hawkeye, are launched safely and correctly. Irby also controls the steam pressure, which is used to propel the catapults that assist various planes in clearing the flight deck.  
Lt. Cmdr. Ron Flanders, public relations liaison aboard the USS Ronald Reagan, said, “Irby has a dangerous job that comes with great responsibility, not the job of your typical 20-year-old.”
Some high school graduates enter the world of dorm rooms and study groups; others enter the work force and start paying bills immediately. Irby chose a slightly different path, but she said she enjoys the transient life of a sailor and is happy visiting places most people dream of while helping to ensure the safety of our troops abroad.  
She offers this advice to young adults who are considering the life of a sailor: “If anyone wants to join the Navy, it takes heart and commitment. I have a job that requires concentration and the combined efforts of many."
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