SAN DIEGO – A 2017 Lawndale High School graduate and Inglewood, California, native is serving in the U.S. Navy with Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM 37) stationed at the U.S. Marine Corps Base Hawaii in Kaneohe Bay.
Petty Officer 3rd Class Bruce Estaya is a naval aircrewman and rescue swimmer serving with HSM 37, a versatile squadron that’s capable of completing a number of important missions for the Navy with the MH-60R “Seahawk” helicopter.
A naval aircrewman and rescue swimmer is responsible for responding to military and civilian open ocean and over land distress calls.
Estaya credits success in the Navy to many of the lessons learned in Inglewood.
“My hometown taught me to keep pushing through and that even though the grass is greener on the other side, the roots of that grass tell the real story so I’m staying true to what I’m doing in life,” said Estaya.
A key element of the Navy the nation needs is tied to the fact that America is a maritime nation, according to Navy officials, 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.
Being stationed in Hawaii, often referred to as the gateway to the Pacific in defense circles, means Estaya is serving in a part of the 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.
“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.”
The Pacific is home to more than 50 percent of the world's population, many of the world's largest and smallest economies, several of the world's largest militaries, and many U.S. allies. The Navy has been pivotal in helping maintain peace and stability in the Pacific region for decades.
HSM 37'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, if required.
According to Navy officials, the MH-60R is the Navy's new primary maritime dominance helicopter, replacing the SH-60B and SH-60F aircraft. 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.
Though there are many ways for sailors to earn distinction in their command, community, and career, Estaya is most proud of graduating from the Fleet Replacement School.
“It was a great achievement to be put through something as challenging as studying something I knew nothing about, learning a different system, and working harder than I ever could’ve in any other job I’ve been through and coming out a new person on the other side,” said Estaya.
As a member of one of the U.S. Navy’s most relied-upon assets, Estaya and other sailors know they are part of a legacy that will last beyond their lifetimes providing the Navy the nation needs.
“It's nice that my shop has the best people who actually care about you as a person and not just a figure in the military,” added Estaya. “Serving means volunteering to something that goes even beyond yourself. The countless stories I hear make it a little personal so I’m proud I get to do this for them as well as for myself.”
This story originally ran on Navy Outreach