Baltimore sailor keeps Navy Wing flying

A 2009 Warwick High School graduate and Baltimore native is serving in the U.S. Navy aboard Naval Air Station Jacksonville, the largest base in the Southeast Region and third largest in the nation.

Petty Officer 2nd Class Tavon Jackson is an intelligence specialist serving with Commander, Patrol and Reconnaissance Wing 11.

As an intelligence specialist, Jackson is responsible for intelligence and combat support.

“What I enjoy most about my job is having the opportunity to expand my skill set outside the range of my community,” said Jackson.

According to Navy officials, Wing 11’s history and reputation remain unparalleled since being commissioned on August 15, 1942. Throughout the decades, Wing 11 has continued to fly combat missions in direct support of the troops on the ground and delivered traditional maritime capabilities, real-time intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance.

Beginning in the 1960s, the P-3C Orion, a land-based, long-range anti-submarine warfare patrol aircraft, replaced the P-2V Neptune fleet. After 50 years of faithful service and the 50th anniversary of Maritime Patrol and Reconnaissance Force, the P-3C Orion is being phased out of the fleet, according to Navy officials.

The P-8A is a modified Boeing airframe featuring a fully connected, state-of-the-art, open architecture mission system designed for long-range anti-submarine warfare; anti-surface warfare; and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions, Navy officials explained.

“The U.S. Navy sometimes asks the impossible of our people. It is sailors that make the impossible possible,” said Capt. Anthony Corapi, Commodore, Patrol and Reconnaissance Wing 11. “Petty Officer Jackson is one example of a selfless servant of our nation. These heroes ask for very little recognition and perform their daily job with pride and professionalism defending freedom and our way of life around the world. Each member of the Navy’s combat team is crucial to our success. I am very proud to have Petty Officer Jackson on our team!”

Jackson is part of a crew that began a transition to the P-8A Poseidon in 2014. Earlier this year, squadron VP-45 entered the Inter-Deployment Readiness Cycle in preparation for their first deployment as a P-8A squadron.

“What I enjoy most about this command is the cohesiveness and camaraderie I share amongst my fellow sailors and other patrol squadrons here on base,” said Jackson.

According to Navy officials, the Navy continues to meet milestone after milestone on this world-class mission and is providing an aircraft with superior capabilities to the men and women in uniform that will have a lasting legacy promoting a global maritime strategy.

“Serving in the Navy has not only made me more mature but I’ve gained a skill set as well,” said Jacskson. “I also love having the opportunity to travel and experience different cultures.”

Baltimore native serves aboard U.S. Navy warship in Japan

A 2004 Western School of Technology and Environmental Science graduate and Baltimore native currently serves aboard the U.S. Navy’s forward-deployed aircraft carrier USS George Washington, stationed at a U.S. Navy base located 35 miles south of Tokyo.

Petty Officer 2nd Class Jahmai Stokes is a mass communication specialist aboard the aircraft carrier operating out of Yokosuka, Japan. While at sea, the ship visits numerous countries each year such as the Philippines, Hong Kong, Singapore and Thailand.

George Washington is one of only 10 currently operational aircraft carriers in the U.S. Navy. It is the sixth Nimitz-class carrier and the fourth Navy vessel named after the first president of the United States. Measuring nearly 1,100 feet from bow to stern on the flight deck, the ship is longer than three football fields. It is 257 feet wide, 244 feet high and weighs nearly 100,000 tons.

As a sailor with numerous responsibilities, Stokes says he is proud to serve his country aboard an aircraft carrier in Japan.

“I’m proud that the George Washington is the first line of defense in this region,” said Stokes.

Stokes also says he is proud of the work he is doing as part of the Washington’s 3,300-member crew, living thousands of miles from home, and protecting America on the world’s oceans.

“My job is tell the world what my shipmates and what my brothers-and-sisters-in-arms do around the world,” Stokes explained.

Assigned to the Navy’s Seventh Fleet, George Washington sailors are continuously on watch throughout the Indo-Asia-Pacific region, acting as one of America’s first responders in the Navy’s largest area of responsibility.

Sailors’ jobs are highly varied aboard George Washington. The ship’s company, which keeps all parts of the aircraft carrier running smoothly, including everything from launching and recovering aircraft to operating its nuclear propulsion plant. Another 2,000 Sailors are assigned to the ship’s embarked air wing, Carrier Air Wing Five, flying and maintaining aircraft aboard the ship.

“I never cease to be impressed with the type and quality of work that goes on aboard the carrier each day,” said Capt. Timothy Kuehhas, the carrier’s commanding officer. “Our team is filled with highly qualified young adults— in many cases, 19 and 20 years old— and they’re out here launching and recovering aircraft, running a complex propulsion system safely, serving as air traffic controllers, operating sophisticated electronics, and keeping this floating city alive and functioning. Collectively, they are part of the greatest ship in our navy. They are proud of their ship and proud of what they do for the United States Navy and their country. If you pick up a newspaper in any city and examine what other 19- and 20-year-olds are doing, there is no comparison to the level of responsibility our Sailors hold.”

George Washington is also a self-sustaining, mobile airport and, like each of the Navy’s aircraft carriers, is designed for a 50-year service life. While underway, the ship carries more than 70 jets, helicopters and other aircraft, all of which take off from and land on the carrier’s 4.5-acre flight deck. Four powerful catapults launch aircraft off the bow of the ship. After lowering a tail hook that protrudes from the rear of the aircraft, jets and aircraft land by snagging a steel cable called an arresting wire.

Stokes and other George Washington sailors know they are part of a forward-deployed team that is heavily relied upon to help protect and defend America across the world’s oceans.

“Where things tend to separate us in regards to social and economic backgrounds, in the Navy, you are all brothers and sisters fighting for the same cause,” said Stokes.