VIRGINIA BEACH, Va.- A 2003 Atholton High School graduate and Tacoma Park, Maryland, native is currently serving with a U.S. Navy strike fighter squadron which flies one of the world’s most advanced warplanes.

Petty Officer 2nd Class Vernon King is an aircrew survival equipmentman with the Gladiators of VFA-106, which operates out of Naval Air Station Oceana. A Navy aircrew survival equipmentman is responsible for keeping parachutes, life rafts, personal flight gear, and other aviation survival gear in proper working condition.

“I’ve always been able to keep an open mind to new ways of doing things becuase of growing up in Tacoma Park,” King said.

Members of VFA-106 train pilots to fly the F/A 18 Super Hornet, one of the most advanced aircraft in the world. The Super Hornet takes off from and lands on Navy aircraft carriers at sea and is capable of conducting air-to-air combat as well as striking targets on land. It is approximately 61 feet long, has a loaded weight of 51,000 lbs., and a max speed of 1,190 miles per hour.

Operating from sea aboard aircraft carriers, the Super Hornet gives the Navy the power to protect America’s interests anywhere, at any time. The versatile jet has the ability to destroy targets located hundreds of miles inland, without the need to get another country’s permission to operate within its borders.

King has military ties with family members who have previously served, and is honored to carry on the family tradition.

“My sister is in the Army Reserves,” said King. “I am proud of what I do. My job is very important to the squadron.”

As a member of one of the U.S. Navy’s most relied-upon assets, King and other sailors know they are part of a legacy that will last beyond their lifetimes providing the Navy the nation needs.

“The aircrew survival shop has very high morale,” King said. “Everyone gets along well and work together to get the job done.”

By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Tom Gagnier, Navy Office of Community Outreach

Photo by Dustin Good