PIEDMONT, S.C. (WSPA) – Commercials are what caught the interest of Navy veteran Keith Pearson.

“I remember seeing the submarine propel itself up out of the water and surface,” Pearson told 7 NEWS. “I was working two part time jobs and I felt like I just needed to change and I wanted better and wanted more for myself. And so that that’s what led me back.”

Hence the word back.

“I actually had one very short enlistment while I was in college,” Pearson shade. “And I went into college right after, pretty much right after I graduated high school and I actually took a break from college and I went into Navy.:

But he had a medical issue, an umbilical hernia.

“We were doing some exercising and those exercises kind of strained my abdomen muscles and pulled out the hernia and I just kind of collapsed to the floor,” said Pearson.

That led to an early discharge.

“I returned home and about two weeks later, I got back into college, picked up where I left off, finished up college graduated with my class,” said Pearson.

But that wasn’t cutting it for him.

Pearson said he needed more.

He got his hernia fixed and back to the Navy he went.

Pearson used his degree to become an electrician’s mate in the engineering department.

“They actually take care of all the electrical outside of the outside of the nuclear plant on board ship,” he explained.

Fork lifts, batteries, the lighting.

But Pearson still wanted a challenge.

“S​o I was moved to the power shop on board, the ship and this shop took care of a tremendous amount of equipment, fire pumps, ac plants, out of plant load centers,” Pearson said.

It was a very fulfilling job for Pearson, making sure things were running smoothly during heightened war times.

“On my first ship, which was a pre com, which was the Harry S. Truman CVN 75, our first deployment, we were involved in Operation Southern Watch,” Pearson said. “So we were out in the Mediterranean in the Gulf, shooting missiles off of, with Iraq and Iran.”

Pearson said there were scary moments.

“But I knew that I had a job to do,” he stated. “So I just kind of fought through it.”

Some of the traumas Pearson said still live with him today.

“There are times where I do, I do kind of isolate myself sometimes,” he told 7 NEWS. “And there are times where my sleep is interrupted by nightmares from different traumas that I’ve experienced.”

So he seeks therapy and confides in other veterans for support.

He said not to hesitate to reach out.

“Because they can give you a much needed resources to be able to help you kind of navigate through that process,” said Pearson.

He also says to take advantage of your benefits.

“Don’t just let them lapse,” Pearson added. “I mean, after all, we literally put our lives on the line.”

Life post service includes more schooling for Pearson.

He said he’s also looking into starting a nonprofit for youth.

“To try to keep them educated, keep them well informed, to try to keep them off the streets,” said Pearson.

And as far as his past in the service, Pearson said it’s humbled him.

“I will do it all over again,” he said. “It was an experience like none other. It does bring a sense of joy and pride and professionalism.”

Keith Pearson, Thank You for Your Service.

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