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NEWS | July 1, 2024

From flight deck to recruiting office: aircraft carrier Sailor inspires Navy recruits in the Lone Star State

By Allen Cordova Navy Talent Acquisition Group San Antonio Public Affairs

In the heart of Texas, a former aircraft carrier Sailor has found a new mission: inspiring the next generation of Navy recruits.

Petty Officer 1st Class Gabriel Arreaga is now dedicating his skills and experience to mentor and guide young men and women entering the Navy. His journey from the flight deck of one of the world’s most impressive warships to the recruiting station in Southeast San Antonio represents the spirit of dedication and service.

Born and raised in Midland, Arreaga’s Navy career began after two semesters of college and numerous attempts to join the Marine Corps. Due to his tattoos, the Marines weren’t an option for him due to their regulations at the time. He yearned for adventure and a chance to serve his country. So, his brother encouraged him to look into the Navy.

“No one had ever really joined the Navy out of my family,” Arreaga said. “I was going into the Navy blind.”

Wanting to leave right away, Arreaga joined the Navy as an Aviation Boatswain’s Mate (Equipment) and attended his basic training in Great Lakes, Illinois. Upon graduation, he transferred to Pensacola, Florida, where he was trained in the basic skills of aviation. His first duty station was in Japan, onboard the USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76).

He quickly adapted to the fast-paced life on the flight deck and served in various capacities from the ship’s arresting gear to the catapult systems, quickly learning the art of launching and recovering various naval aircraft.

According to Arreaga, his favorite part of being an Aviation Boatswain’s Mate was leading junior Sailors and helping them be successful in their careers.

“I enjoyed training new airmen, showing them the ropes, and helping them be successful,” Arreaga said.

After four deployments and visiting 12 different countries, Arreaga was allowed to be stationed close to home when he chose orders to Navy Talent Acquisition Group San Antonio. His return to Texas marked the beginning of his new role as a mentor and Navy recruiter.

His first recruiting station was Navy Recruiting Station Ingram, located in San Antonio where he became one of NTAG San Antonio’s top recruiters and was promoted to Petty Officer First Class. After his success at NRS Ingram, Arreaga missed leading Sailors like he did on the ship. He requested and was awarded the position of Recruiter in Charge of NRS Southeast San Antonio, a position normally held by a chief petty officer or a rated Navy Counselor.

During his first year in charge of NRS Southeast San Antonio, he was awarded “RINC of the Year” and his team earned the prestigious “Medium Recruiting Station of the Year.”

“What makes my recruiters in this office successful is always going that extra mile,” Arreaga said. “Getting to know each and every applicant that walks through the doors and putting them in the best position so when they leave, they understand if they can join and what the benefits are.”

Feeling he had accomplished what he wanted on the flight deck aboard USS Ronald Reagan, Arreaga decided to submit a conversion application and was recently chosen to become a Navy Counselor.

His efforts have significantly impacted recruitment numbers in the region. More importantly, he’s been able to instill a sense of pride and confidence in new recruiters and many young Texans who join the Navy. His mentorship extends beyond recruitment; he often keeps in touch with recruits after they have completed boot camp, offering guidance as they navigate their early Navy careers.

“Finding the most qualified applicants and giving them the opportunity that I had; to be able to serve, travel the world, and become leaders, is what I enjoy about being a recruiter,” Arreaga said. “Watching them accomplish their goals that they came to my office saying they wanted to accomplish, is always something that makes me feel good.”

NTAG San Antonio’s area of responsibility includes more than 30 Navy enlisted and officer recruiting stations spread throughout 144,000 square miles of Central and South Texas territory.

For those interested in the Navy, contact a local recruiter by calling 1-800-USA-NAVY, visiting, or follow us at,,, and