By Jesse Hawthorne
A 1999 Pinetree High School graduate and Longview, Texas, native is serving in the U.S. Navy aboard Naval Air Station Jacksonville, home to the U.S. Navy’s newest maritime, patrol and reconnaissance aircraft.
Petty Officer 1st Class Summer Cates is a Navy aviation ordanceman serving with Commander, Patrol and Reconnaissance Wing 11 (CPRW-11).
A Navy aviation ordanceman is responsible for loading forward firing ordance along with ordance for search and rescue teams.
“It’s rewarding to know that the stuff we are loading onto the aircraft is accomplishing the mission,” said Cates.
Cates credits success in the Navy to many of the lessons learned in Longview.
The P-8A Poseidon is a multi-mission aircraft that is replacing the legacy P-3C Orion. Those who fly in the P-8A hunt for submarines and surface ships as well as conduct intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions.
The P-8A operates with a smaller crew than the P-3C, and it also delivers an extended global reach, greater payload capacity, and higher operating altitude. It also has an open-systems architecture with significant growth potential.
According to Navy officials, there are more than 15 Navy patrol squadrons in the U.S. and eight of those squadrons belong to Wing Eleven, headquartered in Jacksonville, Florida. This means that those who serve here are part of the first “Super Wing” in Maritime Patrol and Reconnaissance history, ready to deploy and defend America and allies around the world.
Wing Eleven recently added the Navy’s newest squadron to its arsenal: Unmanned Patrol Squadron Nineteen (VP-19), flying the MQ-4C Triton Unmanned Aerial System (UAS). The P-8A and MQ-4C will serve as the future of the Maritime Patrol and Reconnaissance Force, according to Navy officials.
When asked about his plans following his assumption of command ceremony in June, Capt. Craig T. Mattingly, Commodore, Patrol and Reconnaissance Wing 11 said, “Our focus will be to take care of our most precious assets, the men and women of (Wing Eleven). We will sustain current readiness of our P-8A squadrons and reserve P-3C squadron while incorporating the MQ-4C Triton into the maritime patrol and reconnaissance force.”
Though there are many ways for a sailor to earn distinction in their command, community, and career, Cates is most proud of being a recruit division commander at Naval Station Great Lakes and teaching civilians to become sailors.
“Knowing that I trained my relief, I have the confidence that I’m leaving the Navy in good hands,” Cates said.
As a member of one of the U.S. Navy’s most relied upon assets, Cates and other sailors know they are part of a legacy that will last beyond their lifetimes, one that will provide a critical component of the Navy the nation needs.
“I love the people, we are a pretty close crew and we get the task done no matter how difficult,” said Cates. “Serving in the Navy means I’m serving my country and making sure my family back home is safe.”
Jesse Hawthorne is a Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Jesse Hawthorne, Navy Office of Community Outreach
Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Theodore Quintana