SASEBO, Japan - A Houma native and 2015 H.L. Bourgeois High graduate is serving in the U.S. Navy with U.S. Naval Hospital Yokosuka in Japan.

Hospitalman Devan Cortese is serving with Branch Health Clinic Sasebo, operating out of Sasebo, Japan.

A Navy hospitalman is responsible for the prevention and treatment of disease and injury, assisting health care professionals in providing medical care to personnel, conducting preliminary physical examinations and maintaining treatment records.

Cortese is proud to serve in the Pacific and fondly recalls memories of Houma.

“I learned how to respect others from my father,” said Cortese. “If you can’t learn to respect others, you can’t get the job done right.”

With more than 50 percent of the world's shipping tonnage and a third of the world's crude oil passing through the region, the U.S. has interests in this part of the world. The Navy's presence in Sasebo is part of that long-standing commitment, Navy officials said.

BHC is a branch health clinic of USNH Yokosuka. Yokosuka and Sesebo together are the largest U.S. military treatment facilities on mainland Japan. Branch health annexes are located at Camp Fuji and Hario, while branch health clinics are located in Iwakuni, and Atsugi in mainland Japan; Chinhae, Korea, on the southern tip of South Korea; and Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean.

“You make a difference every day,” said U.S. 7th Fleet's Deputy Commander Joey Dodgen. “We are the most prepared, highly trained and the most capable force in the Indo-Pacific. Our carriers, amphibious assault ships, aircraft and most importantly, our people, are ready today to face regional challenges and lead our Navy’s forces in this theater, just as the officers and Sailors of 7th Fleet have done for 75 years. So thank you for all that you do.”

The hospital provides medical, dental and emergency services.

“I love being stationed here, there’s so much to see and do in Japan,” said Cortese. “I enjoy working at this command because I enjoy helping families and spouses of those deployed.”

Cortese is also proud of his job as an X-ray tech. He takes pride in his job and treats his patients with care, knowing that he chose the right career field.

As a member of one of the U.S. Navy’s most relied-upon assets, Cortese and other sailors know they are part of a legacy that will last beyond their lifetimes.

"Joining the Navy has helped me grow as a person,” said Cortese. “I enjoy being with this command because we are such a close-knit family.”

Seventh Fleet, which is celebrating its 75th year in 2018, spans more than 124 million square kilometers, stretching from the International Date Line to the India-Pakistan border and from the Kuril Islands in the north to the Antarctic in the south. Seventh Fleet's area of operation encompasses 36 maritime countries and 50 percent of the world’s population with 50 to 70 U.S. ships and submarines, 140 aircraft and approximately 20,000 sailors.