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North Hall native takes pride in job fighting pirates
Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Daniel L. Foster is serving aboard the USS De Wert in the Indian Ocean. The North Hall native is involved in fighting pirates in the area, many who come from Somalia.


Listen as Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Daniel L. Foster talks about his work fighting pirates during a phone call from a ship somewhere in the Indian Ocean.

It's an unpredictable and sometimes hectic schedule he keeps in the treacherous waters off the Horn of Africa.

But the job, quelling acts of piracy in the Indian Ocean, is one that Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Daniel L. Foster enjoys.

"If a situation needs stabilizing, it's my equipment that does it," said the Clermont native in a recent phone interview. "It's what gets the job done, and that brings a lot of satisfaction."

Foster, 29, serves aboard the USS De Wert, which is part of the U.S. 5th Fleet taking part in counterpiracy operations.

Piracy has persisted in the region, particularly off the Somali coast, since civil war broke out in the early 1990s in Somalia.

In October 2008, the United Nations Security Council passed a resolution calling on all nations interested in maritime activities to join in combating piracy.

The U.S. 5th Fleet is part of Combined Task Force 151, which also includes naval forces from Spain, England, Pakistan, Australia and Turkey.

"It's a worldwide (mission) support and we're just playing our role in it," Foster said. "We're going out and pretty much hunting for pirates and try to stop what they're doing over here to innocent people."

For Foster, joining the military in 2001 was inevitable.

"Pretty much all my family has been in the military and it was something I had thought about doing for a long time," he said.

Still, he took the long way before enlisting. After North Hall High School, he attended Coastal Georgia Community College in Brunswick, majoring in golf course and landscape design.

Later, "the opportunity came along and I decided to give up my major and join the Navy," Foster said.

After basic training, he was stationed in Pensacola, Fla., for training in aviation ordnance.

He then was assigned to the USS George Washington, where he spent 4 1/2 years and served through two deployments in the Persian Gulf.

Foster, who has family in Hall County, was transferred to the Patuxent River Naval Air Station Complex in Maryland, serving as part of Air Test & Evaluation Squadron One and testing new weapon systems, he said.

After two years there, he was assigned to the of Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron Light 46 in Mayport, Fla.

Now on his third deployment - Combined Task Force 151 was established in January - Foster is responsible for the loading and downloading of ordnance and ensuring armament systems are properly configured for specific missions.

"The schedule can be pretty hectic because I work the flight schedule," he said. "(Flights) can range from 6 in the morning to 6 the next morning. ... It can (involve) some pretty long hours."

But it is work he relishes, so much that he plans to make the Navy his career.

"I don't see anything else I can do," he said. "I love the military and take a lot of pride serving."

Foster's half-brother, David Foster, who lives in Flowery Branch, said he is proud of his younger sibling.

"Our whole family has served in the military. All my brothers, except for one, have served, and we were all Navy guys," he said.

The two siblings chat occasionally, with Daniel last visiting home during the Fourth of July.

"When he comes home on leave, he usually stays here with us," he said.

As for Daniel's work, "it has to be done and that's one of the things the Navy does," David Foster said. "The alternatives aren't that great. I'd sooner him be there than over in Iraq, I tell you."