NAPLES, Italy. -- A small corner of Europe is looking and sounding a lot like Richmond.
Rear Admiral Mike Curran, Lieutenant Commander Steve Castle and Mass Communication Specialist First Class Scott Wichmann are serving in Naples, Italy.
"There is a lot of history here like Virginia. The difference here it is made of stone," says Castle."
The sailors from Central Virginia are working together on America's global response to COVID-19 while protecting the high seas from foreign threats.
"Italy was one of the hardest his countries in Europe. They've shown such strong resilience in fighting COVID," said Curran. "And the United States stands in solidarity with our Italian hosts."
"Italy is a critical theatre so everything we do has long term consequences for the stability for Europe and Africa," says Wichmann.
Shouldering such responsibility is why the three friends and colleagues signed up.
"For me, I went from serving as a hospital administrator in Richmond, Virginia to sitting around tables with admirals and generals, ambassadors, heads of Navy and Chiefs of defense of foreign countries," said Castle. "It truly has been a remarkable experience and I am proud and thankful that the Navy has entrusted me with this honor."
The men said that being away from the comforts of home for long stretches make you appreciate the Commonwealth that much more.
"For me, it was the Grand Illumination at the James Center around the holidays. It just wasn't Christmas without seeing the buildings downtown lit up," said Curran.
"The Virginia Rep theatre puts on so many different performances we like to attend and of course the whitewater rafting of the James River," said Castle.
Of course, being deployed to Italy does have its perks especially for the taste buds.
"Naples is the home of pizza. So of course, I've had my share. Not too much. Everything in moderation," said Curran.
"The food here in Italy is great. It is really good. My wife is Italian, so it's constantly a comparison," said Wichmann. "She is constantly saying, 'Is it as good as mine?' Is it as good as mine?'"
For the three sailors, serving the nation in the far corners of the world is the utmost privilege. But their hearts will forever remain in Virginia.
"Fortunately, I have a family that is very supportive of me being here. I'm proud to be here but with that said I look forward to being home," says Castle.
"For me to be a part of that trio. To be a small part of the puzzle here at 6th Fleet is a real honor and hope to do the best I can. It is a team I am proud to be a part of," says Scott. "It is really motivating when you put the uniform on you represent the people back home."