When Johnny Kay remembers growing up in Refugio, the citizens come to mind.
Some of his fondest memories are of attending sporting events, especially football games and track meets, and just enjoying the people.
Kay, a member of the Refugio High School graduating class of 1980 said, “The people in Refugio are the best.”
After completing his education at RHS Kay attended Del Mar College for two years before entering the workforce.
He had various occupations before joining the U.S. Navy in 1987. He enlisted because he saw the Navy as a opportunity to have a career, travel and chart a course for his future.
In addition, his father had been in the Navy.
Kay’s parents were the late Mary Dickerson and the late John Daughtry.
During his 10 years as a sailor Kay became a Mess Management Specialist and was an E-4 when he left the Navy in 1997.
In addition to receiving a Navy Good Conduct Medal, the sailor was also the recipient of a Navy Commendation Medal.
The Navy Commendation Medal is giving to a person who distinguishes himself/herself by heroic or meritorious achievement or service while serving in the Navy.
He served onboard the USS Saratoga in the Gulf War. His last tour of duty was onboard the USS Enterprise (CVN-60).
Following his stint in the Navy, Kay worked as a manager of a Hardee’s Restaurant for three years.
For the past 21 years he has been working as a civilian government employee sailing with the Military Sealift Command.
The MSC is an organization that controls the replenishment and military transport ships of the U.S. Navy.
He is currently serving aboard the USNS Wally Schirra (T-AKE-8).
Kay stated, “I have worked hard to receive the promotions from washing dishes in my first two years at MSC, to now being a Junior Supply Officer and maybe a Supply Officer.”
As a JSO his duties include providing millions of dollars in cargo and fuel to all U.S. military vessels so that they can complete their missions. He is also in charge of the personnel necessary to complete these tasks.
While with MSC Kay has served on various ships. Among them are the USNS Medgar Evers (T-AKE-13), named after the slain civil rights leader and Army veteran.
“I am very proud to have been able to sail aboard that ship,” stated Kay.
Kay’s thirty-one year career has given him the opportunity to travel to places that, as a child, he could only dream of one day seeing.
Those places include Tanzania, Scotland, Spain, Greece, Dubai, Portugal, England, Seychelles, France, Italy, Ireland and Kenya.
Kay describes Tanzania as a very beautiful country. While he was in the East African country, he was able to go on a safari where he enjoyed the sights and sounds of the animals.
He lists Ireland as being the most memorable place that he has visited. In addition to touring the country, he was able to visit a museum in Cobh, Ireland that is dedicated to the Titanic. Cobh was the last port of call for the ill-fated ship.
Kay and his wife of 31 years, Beverly, make their home in Chesapeake, Virginia. They have one daughter, Jacqueline, two grandchildren and one great-grandson.
“I am so proud to be married to a wonderful woman and have a loving and supportive family who make sacrifices everyday so I can do the work I do, being able to provide for them in a way that I never could have dreamed of,” he said.
Kay has no plans to retire in the near future.
He said, “Serving my country is a great honor and knowing that somewhere along the way I have made a difference in someone’s life as well as mine is a great feeling of accomplishment.”