• August 3rd, 2021
  • Tuesday, 05:40:25 AM

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Honoring Our Nation’s Military Members


Colorado Sailor Continues 75 Year Tradition

 

 

Photo: Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Tom Gagnier

Navy Constructionman Jacob Padilla

 

“We Build, We Fight” has been the motto of the U. S. Navy’s Construction Force, known as the “Seabees,” for the past 75 years. Colorado Springs, Colorado, native and 2014 Widefield High School graduate, Navy Constructionman Jacob Padilla, builds and fights around the world as a member of a naval construction battalion center located in Gulfport, Mississippi.

Padilla works as a builder which is responsible for constructing buildings, laying concrete, and securing the foundation of a structure.

“Where I grew up there were two major military bases, so I grew up around a lot of military families,” said Padilla. “I played high school football with many kids from those families and hearing their stories really intrigued me about joining the military.”

The jobs of some of the Seabees today have remained unchanged since World War II, when the Seabees paved the 10,000-mile road to victory for the allies in the Pacific and in Europe, according to Lara Godbille, director of the U. S. Navy Seabee Museum.

For the past 75 years Seabees have served in all American conflicts. They have also supported humanitarian efforts using their construction skills to help communities around the world.  They aid following earthquakes, hurricanes and other natural disasters.

Seabees around the world are taking part in commemorating the group’s 75-year anniversary this year. The theme of the celebration is “Built on History, Constructing the Future.”

“I am proud that I qualified to wear the surface warfare specialist device while on a deployment,” said Padilla.

Serving in the Navy allows people to create a legacy for the next generation.

“I am very proud to serve my country and to give back,” added Padilla.

By Lt. Lorna Mae Devera, Navy Office of Community Outreach

 

 

Grand Junction Native Serves in Hawaii

Photo: US Navy

Petty Officer 2nd Class Cassandra Lucero

 

A Grand Junction, Colorado native and 2014 Fruita Monument High School graduate, Petty Officer 2nd Class Cassandra Lucero is serving in the U.S. Navy aboard the guided missile destroyer, USS John Paul Jones.

Lucero works as an operations specialist aboard the guided missile destroyer operating out of Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.

A Navy operations specialist is responsible for electronical navigation and other operations of the ship including refuelin and helio ops.

“I like the people that I work with,” said Lucero. “The job itself makes you feel like you have an important part in the military. We don’t just have to know our job we have to have knowledge of everyone else’s job too.”

“I like that this ship will go down in history for a lot new technology we are testing out,” said Lucero. “The work we do here will help the Navy and our country in the future.”

“Serving means a lot to me because it is an honor to follow in the footsteps of the ones who served before,” added Lucero. “I am able to be a part of making us the greatest country.”

By Kayla Good, Navy Office of Community Outreach

 

 

Commander Reyes Aboard USS Halsey

Photo: US Navy

Commander David Reyes

 

A Defiance, Ohio native and 1993 Defiance High School and 2000 University of Colorado graduate, Cmdr. David Reyes is serving in the U.S. Navy aboard the guided missile destroyer, USS Halsey.

Reyes is the commanding officer aboard the guided missile destroyer operating out of Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.

A Navy commanding officer is responsible for the manning, training and overall performance of the 330 sailors on the destroyer.

“I like that my job allows me to work with sailors that come from all different walks of life,” said Reyes.

With the ability to conduct anti-air warfare, anti-submarine warfare and anti-surface warfare, destroyers are capable of sustained maritime operations supporting forward naval presence, maritime security, sea control, deterrence of aggressive actions on U.S. partners around the globe, as well as humanitarian assistance.

“One of the things that makes our Navy the best in the world, is the diverse backgrounds of our sailors,” said Reyes. “Their ability to work together and bring their different perspectives to our ship, missions, and various challenges enable us to be an unstoppable force. The personal experiences and values they offer cultivates an environment in which determination and creativity helps ensure our continued success. I am extremely honored to have the privilege to lead and serve with these extraordinary young men and women.”

Approximately 300 men and women serve aboard the ship. Their jobs are highly specialized and keep each part of the destroyer running smoothly.  “The best thing about serving here is the sailors,” said Reyes. “I like getting the chance to see them grow.”

“Serving in the Navy is something to take pride in,” said Reyes.  “It’s honorable to be that one percent of the country that volunteered to be part of something bigger than yourself.”

By Petty Officer 1st Class James H. Green, Navy Office of Community Outreach

 

 

Family Pride in Military Service

Photo: Senior Chief Petty Officer Gary Ward

Petty Officer 2nd Class Nikki García

 

A 2004 Robertson High School graduate and Las Vegas, New México native is serving in the U.S. Navy as part of the nation’s nuclear deterrence mission at Strategic Communications Wing ONE.

Petty Officer 2nd Class Nikki García (featured on Cover photo) credits her grandfather for influencing her decision to join the service.

“My grandfather served in the Army during the Korean War,” said García. “The stories he told made me want to contribute to our country and be like him.”

The mission stems from the original 1961 Cold War order known as Take Charge and Move Out! Adapted as TACAMO and now the command’s nickname, today, the men and women of TACAMO continue to provide a survivable communication link between national decision makers and the nation’s nuclear weapons.

The commander-in-chief issues orders to members of the military who operate nuclear weapons aboard submarines, aircraft or in land-based missile silos. Sailors aboard TACAMO E-6 Mercury aircraft provide the one-of-a-kind and most-survivable communication needed for this critical mission.

García is an aviation electrician assigned to Tinker Air Force Base where the Navy command is headquartered.

“A Navy aviation electronics technician is an aircraft electrician. I ensure that the electronic components on the E6 Mercury aircraft are maintained so that the we are always ready to fly,” said García.

The Navy’s presence aboard an Air Force base in the middle of America may seem like an odd location given its distance from any ocean; however, the central location allows for the deployment of aircraft to both coasts and the Gulf of Mexico on a moment’s notice. This quick response is key to the success of the nuclear deterrence mission.

“We’re always on call and ready to respond so we can protect our country,” said García. “Our capabilities serve as a deterrent and ensure stability around the world.”

Sailors serving from America’s heartland take pride in the vital mission they support as well as the nuclear deterrence they help provide.

“Although I am one person, I do play a big role in our mission,” said García. “I am proud of protecting my family and our country.”

By Lt. Lauryn Dempsey, Navy Office of Community Outreach

 

 

New México Native Earns Coveted Title

Photo: US Navy  

Chief Petty Officer Juan Gómez

 

Navy Chief Aviation Electrician’s Mate Juan Gómez from Ft. Sumner, New México, was recently promoted to chief petty officer, an accomplishment that only one in five eligible sailors achieve each year.

Chief Gómez, a 1994 Ft. Sumner High School graduate and 2007 Columbia College graduate, has served in the Navy for 17 years and is currently serving with Fleet Air Reconnaissance Squadron 3.

“This is one of my greatest achievements in my military career,” said Gómez. “I get to join one of the greatest brother/sisterhoods in the world. I also get to be called chief!”

Achieving the title of ‘Navy Chief’ is a major honor and milestone.  According to Navy Personnel Command, there are only 8.5 percent of sailors currently serving at the chief petty officer rank.

To be selected for this promotion, sailors must be a petty officer 1st class, and successfully navigate through two qualifying factors: a job-based exam and a selection review board. A sailor’s record can only proceed to the review board after they score high enough on the exam. Once the exam is passed, their records are reviewed by a panel of senior navy leaders who meet for six weeks to determine if the individuals meet the standards for selection as a chief petty officer. A sailor’s performance is evaluated for at least five years, and each sailor attributes different experiences for their selection.

“I have been through several commands during my 17 years and have had great mentors along the way,” said Gómez. “You don’t become a chief without having a mentor and learning to work with many types of people.”

During the ceremony, the honored sailors invite friends and family members to pin on the two gold anchors that adorn the newly appointed chiefs’ uniforms, while the sailor’s sponsor places the combination cover on their heads.

“I give my friends and family a lot of credit,” said Gómez. “If you did not have that support back home it would make deployments much more difficult.”

 

 

Santa Fe Native Serves Abroad in Spain

Photo: US Navy

Petty Officer 3rd Class Jared Rodríguez

 

A Los Alamos High School graduate and Santa Fe, New México native is serving in the U.S. Navy aboard the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer, USS Donald Cook.

Petty Officer 3rd Class Jared Rodríguez is a gas turbine systems technician (mechanical) aboard the forward-deployed Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer operating out of Rota, Spain. Donald Cook is one of four destroyers homeported in Rota.

A Navy gas turbine systems technician (mechanical) is responsible for control and maintenance on engines and power plants on board the ship.

“The thing I like best about my job is being a mechanic and being able to fix the engines aboard the ship,” said Rodríguez.

Commissioned in 1998, the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer, Donald Cook, is 509 feet long; the length of more than 3 football fields. The ship is named after Donald Cook, a Vietnam War prisoner of war who died in captivity.

Approximately 30 officers and 300 enlisted men and women make up the ship’s company. Their jobs are highly specialized and keep each part of the cruiser running smoothly. The jobs range from maintaining engines to handling weaponry and everything in between.

“The thing I like best about serving on this ship is all the things you can learn here,” said Rodríguez. “Just being in Spain is amazing.”

Although it is difficult for most people to imagine living on a ship, the challenging living conditions build strong fellowship among the crew. The crew is highly motivated and quickly adapt to changing conditions. It is a busy life of specialized work, watches, and drills.

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

“For me, serving in the Navy is about helping people and the pride of serving my country,” said Rodríguez.

 

 

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