By Senior Chief Mass Communication Specialist William Lovelady, Navy Office of Community Outreach
SAN DIEGO – Petty Officer 2nd Class Alfredo Estrada, a native of Bay Point, California, always wanted to be in the service.
Petty Officer 2nd Class Alfredo Estrada, a native of Bay Point, California, Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Jackson Brown
“I never knew which branch and ended up at the Navy recruiting station,” said Estrada. “Nine months later I was at boot camp.”
Now, five years later, Estrada serves with the Raptors of Helicopter Maritime Squadron (HSM) 71, working with one of the Navy’s most advanced helicopters at Naval Air Station North Island, San Diego.
“Working with this squadron is not easy, but it’s not hard,” said Estrada. “We have to work together to overcome problems so it’s like family.”
Estrada, a 2014 graduate of Mount Diablo High School, is an aviation machinist’s mate with HSM 71, a versatile squadron that’s capable of completing a number of important missions for the Navy with the MH-60R “Seahawk” helicopter.
“I work on helicopter engines and transmissions,” said Estrada. “It takes three or four hours of maintenance to get one hour of flight time from a helicopter.”
Estrada credits success in the Navy to many of the lessons learned in Bay Point.
“If you make a mistake, it’s better to be honest instead of trying to hide it.,” said Estrada.
HSM 71’s primary mission is to conduct sea control operations in open-ocean and coastal environments as an expeditionary unit. This includes hunting for submarines, searching for surface targets over the horizon and conducting search and rescue operations.
According to Navy officials, the MH-60R is the Navy’s new primary maritime dominance helicopter. Greatly enhanced over its predecessors, the MH-60R helicopter features a glass cockpit and significant mission system improvements, which give it unmatched capability as an airborne multi-mission naval platform.
As the U.S. Navy’s next generation submarine hunter and anti-surface warfare helicopter, the MH-60R “Romeo” is the cornerstone of the Navy’s Helicopter Concept of Operations. Anti-submarine warfare and surface warfare are the MH-60R’s primary missions. Secondary missions include search and rescue, medical evacuation, vertical replenishment, naval surface fire support, communications relay, command, control, communications, command and control warfare and non-combat operations.
Serving in the Navy means Estrada is part of a world that is taking on new importance in America’s focus on rebuilding military readiness, strengthening alliances and reforming business practices in support of the National Defense Strategy.
America is a maritime nation, and the nation’s prosperity is tied to the ability to operate freely on the world’s oceans. More than 70 percent of the Earth’s surface is covered by water; 80 percent of the world’s population lives close to a coast; and 90 percent of all global trade by volume travels by sea.
“Our priorities center on people, capabilities and processes, and will be achieved by our focus on speed, value, results and partnerships,” said Secretary of the Navy Richard V. Spencer. “Readiness, lethality and modernization are the requirements driving these priorities.”
Though there are many ways for sailors to earn distinction in their command, community, and career, Estrada is most proud of making rank, getting qualifications and being the go-to guy.
“If there is ever a problem, I get the satisfaction of knowing I can fix it,” said Estrada.
As a member of one of the U.S. Navy’s most relied upon assets, Estrada and other sailors know they are part of a legacy that will last beyond their lifetimes contributing to the Navy the nation needs.
“The Navy puts a lot of trust in someone to fix an aircraft and then seeing that aircraft fly with other people in it, you get a lot of satisfaction out of that,” said Estrada.