OGDEN -- Parker Christensen has dreamed of being a Navy SEAL since he was 12 years old.
That dream was about to become a reality about a year ago when he joined the Navy and was getting ready to enter the Navy SEAL program. However, his dream was stalled when he fractured his leg.
At the time, the Navy told him he could walk away from the program, free and clear, and continue with the Navy in another capacity. He could re-sign to the Navy SEAL program at a later date, although getting back into the program would be a long shot.
Unsure what path to take, Christensen decided he would stay with the Navy.
"I made a commitment and I figured I better man up and fulfill my duty," Christensen said in a phone interview from Bath, Maine.
He was sent to Mississippi where he was a supply clerk. But there, things became tough.
He was hearing about his buddies in the SEAL program and also back at home in Utah and wondered why he was doing what he was doing.
Than a small miracle came his way. He received orders to be transferred to Bath, Maine, where he would prepare a U.S. Navy destroyer for its maiden voyage. A bonus was that the ship was the "Michael Murphy," named after Christensen's biggest hero, whom he credits as one of the reasons he joined the Navy in the first place.
Murphy was a U.S. Navy SEAL posthumously awarded the United States military's highest decoration, the Medal of Honor, for his actions in 2005 during the War in Afghanistan.
Christensen read a book about Murphy when he was in ninth grade and since that time has looked up to Murphy for his accomplishments. When he found out he would be working on the ship he was thrilled.
He also was provided the opportunity to be trained as a rescue swimmer. He finished the training, and did very well said Christensen's father, Stewart Christensen.
Now, Christensen will be one of two rescue swimmers aboard the Michael Murphy when he sets sail this fall. The destroyer will carry about 285 crewmen and will sail to Pearl Harbor.
Parker received another bonus a few weeks ago when he was asked by his commanding officer to ride in a bike race for the American Lung Association on a bike that was built in honor of Murphy. He also got the chance to eat lunch with Murphy's mother, another great honor for Parker.
Stewart said it has been great to watch his son excel at something he loves, especially after being down on his luck.
"It's been a real character builder," Stewart said of his son, who he said has grown immensely. "There's nothing worse than seeing someone who has wanted something so badly and it's within their grasp and not be able to get it."
Stewart said it is rare for someone to get re-signed into the program, but Parker recently received word he could get back into the program in a little more than a year. Stewart said Parker's commanding officer sees a passion in him that they need in the SEAL program.
Parker admits that at first he was devastated about being released from the program and not knowing if he could get back in, but after the experiences he is having, and being able to honor Murphy the way he has, all of it has been for good.
"I know I needed to do these things... I have grown up and I have learned to love God, my family and my friends a lot more and I have learned that I want to make life better for people," he added.
Stewart and his wife recently got to visit Parker in Maine as he has been working and preparing the ship and he is amazed at the top physical shape his son is in and the way he and his fellow shipmates are prepared to serve their country.
"These young men are prepared," Stewart said.
Parker feels that too and can't wait for the rest of his his adventures.
"This is what I was meant to do," he said.