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E-3 Machinist Mate Fireman Catherine Bickel served in the U.S. Navy aboard the USS Carl Vinson. CONTRIBUTED

Bickel worked with Reactor Mechanical Group on USS Carl Vinson

MADISON – During most of her time in the military, Madison native Catherine Bickel worked on maintenance for the nuclear reactor on a ship.

She entered the U.S. Navy on Feb. 13, 2012 and completed basic training in Great Lakes, Ill. “I actually stayed in Great Lakes to complete my schooling and training for my job,” Bickel said.

Her military education includes Engineering Professional Apprenticeship, Basic Engineering Common Core, and Machinist Mate Strand. “Once schooling was completed, I was ordered to be stationed in San Diego, Calif. on the USS Carl Vinson (CVN-70),” Bickel said.

“I was then put into the Reactor Department of the ship and was put in a group called Reactor Mechanical (RM),” Bickel said. “My job consisted of working on the nuclear reactor of the ship.”

Nuclear reactors generate the steam used to produce power for propulsion, electric power, catapulting airplanes in aircraft carriers and a few more minor uses, she said.

“I was never deployed but helped USS Carl Vinson complete all training unit and total ship readiness exercises required for ships to deploy,” Bickel said.

During her time in the military, Bickel was awarded the National Defense Service Medal and the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal. “I was an E-3 (Machinist Mate Fireman) when I was honorably discharged,” Bickel said.

When she was discharged, Bickel moved back to Madison to be with and around friends and family. She has attended both Wallace State Community College and Calhoun Community College.

Currently, Bickel works as an IT Customer Support Analyst for KBR on Redstone Arsenal.

She and her husband Tyler have one son, Garrison, who will be one year old on Feb. 1. Tyler works as a Commercial Account Manager for LeafFilter Gutter Protection.

She has put her volunteering efforts on hold to stay home during the COVID-19 pandemic. “My hobbies include reading, baking and I am a lover of all things makeup and hair!” Bickel said.

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