SAN DIEGO – Petty Officer 2nd Class Rodolfo Duarte, a native of Montebello, California, joined the Navy because he wanted to make a decision for himself.
“I didn't want to live with my mom or become broke going to school,” said Duarte.
Now, six years later, he 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.
Duarte, a 2012 graduate of Schurr High School, is an aviation electrician's mate with a versatile squadron that’s capable of completing a number of important missions for the Navy with the MH-60R “Seahawk” helicopter.
“I'm responsible for the night shift electricians and I manage their workload,” said Duarte.
Duarte credits success in the Navy to many of the lessons learned in Montebello.
“No doesn't have to mean no," said Duarte. "There's always a way to work around rejection to accomplish your goals.”
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.
Serving in the Navy means Duarte is part of a community 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, Duarte is most proud of joining the Navy and the freedom and independence that choice allowed him.
“I got out of my town and was able to make my own decisions,” said Duarte.
As a member of one of the U.S. Navy’s most relied upon assets, Duarte 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 means I’m held accountable for my actions and the way I do things,” said Duarte. “I'm held to a higher standard so the things I do aren't just about me. You have to carry yourself with a little more dignity.”
This story originally ran on Navy Outreach