SAN DIEGO – Petty Officer 3rd Class Selena Sanchez, a native of Leesville, Louisiana, was inspired by her sister to join the Navy.
"She was in the Air Force and she told me it was the best decision she ever made in her life," Sanchez said. "I like being around the ocean so I figured I'd go into the Navy.”
Now, two years later, Sanchez serves with the Scorpions of Helicopter Maritime Squadron (HSM) 49, working with one of the Navy’s most advanced helicopters at Naval Air Station North Island, San Diego.
“It's hard on some days but everybody really gets along most days," Sanchez said. "It's pretty fun. I made a lot of friends and we all work really well together.”
Sanchez, a 2017 graduate of Leesville High School, is an aviation structural mechanic with HSM 49, a versatile squadron that’s capable of completing a number of important missions for the Navy with the MH-60R “Seahawk” helicopter.
“I fix helicopters, such as H-60 Romeos, anti-submarine and search and rescue helicopters,” said Sanchez.
Sanchez credits success in the Navy to many of the lessons learned in Leesville.
“I learned the golden rule: Do unto others as you want to be done to you,” said Sanchez.
HSM 49'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.
“All our platforms are pretty unique," Sanchez said. "Rotary wing is completely different than fixed wing because there's a lot more that goes into it.”
Serving in the Navy means Sanchez 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.
A key element of the Navy the nation needs is tied to the fact that America is a maritime nation, and that 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, Sanchez is most proud of being promoted to third class petty officer.
“I worked hard for it,” said Sanchez.
As a member of one of the U.S. Navy’s most relied upon assets, Sanchez and other sailors know they are part of a legacy that will last beyond their lifetimes contributing to the Navy the nation needs.
“Serving in the Navy is a big responsibility and a big commitment and it's a very good learning experience,” said Sanchez.