Natchitoches Native Serves Aboard USS Paul Hamilton

Natchitoches native Lona Rachal joined the Navy in 2016. Military service was a dream she always wanted to pursue.

Lona is the daughter of Priscilla Gay and Mr. and Mrs. Louis Rachal Jr. of Natchitoches. She attended Northwestern State University Lab Schools and graduated from Natchitoches Central High School in 1999. She briefly attended NSU before going on to graduate as Outstanding Graduate in Modern Languages from the University of Louisiana, Lafayette in 2006.

“Serving my country is an honor because I love my family and the morals and values that the military protects for our country,” said Lona. “I had good jobs after graduating high school, but the military was always in the back of my mind. I just had to know if it was for me. I didn’t want to look back later on in my life and say, ‘I wish I had done it, and regret that I never tried.’ Plus, if you know me personally, you know that I love a good adventure.”

Lona is definitely getting the adventure she loves. She works on the USS Paul Hamilton (DDG-60), the best guided missile destroyer in the Fleet! This ship’s primary mission is ballistic missile defense (BMD), and it is part of the nuclear defense triad. The ship and its crew is capable of completing 25 other missions as well, including undersea warfare, cyber warfare, and anti-surface warfare.

Lona is a Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class, so she takes care of the more than 350 crew members, as well as any civilian contractors that come onboard.

“I do my best to keep everyone healthy and happy by providing high quality medical care and keeping a positive attitude,” she said. “I run sick call, assist with medical treatments, and teach the crew basic lifesaving skills. Additionally, I am the command photographer and serve as an assistant Career Counselor onboard. I am taking on the role of Lay Leader onboard, which is the command’s religious program leader.”

At the end of the day, Lona’s passion is helping sailors. The crew aboard the USS Paul Hamilton is a great group of individuals who make every day a joy for her.

“The amount of support and respect I receive from the upper chain of command all the way to the newest check-ins makes what I do the best,” she said. “I love getting to pass my knowledge to the other corpsmen, as well as undesignated sailors who are looking for inspiration in career choices.”