By Kayla Turnbow, Navy Office of Community Outreach
Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Tim Miller
NORFOLK, Va. – A 2012 Leonardtown High School graduate and Leonardtown, Maryland, native is serving in the U.S. Navy with Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron Two (HSC-2) at Naval Station Norfolk in Norfolk, Virginia.
Lt. j.g. Nicholas Gaetano is a Navy fleet replacement pilot serving with the Fleet Angels, a versatile squadron that’s capable of completing a number of important missions for the Navy with the MH-60S “Knighthawk” helicopter. A Navy fleet replacement pilot is responsible for learning how to fly the MH-60s helicopters to complete missions.
Gaetano credits success in the Navy to many of the lessons learned growing up in Leonardtown.
“I was taught hard work growing up,” said Gaetano. “This job isn’t the easiest thing so it is important to have a good work ethic.”
HSC-2 trains more than 1,500 pilots, aircrewmen and aviation students annually. Squadron members train those who will fly and maintain the MH-60S helicopter in a variety of missions, including fleet logistics support, medical evacuation, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.
When flying the “Knighthawk” helicopter, members of the Fleet Angels search for surface ships, support special operations forces, conduct combat search and rescue missions, and perform other military operations around the world.
“I think the instructors are the best group of people I have been able to learn from,” said Gaetano. “The command is very friendly and easy to approach.”
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.
Gaetano is playing an important part in America’s focus on rebuilding military readiness, strengthening alliances and reforming business practices in support of 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.”
Serving in the Navy is a continuing tradition of military service for Gaetano, who has military ties with family members who have previously served. Gaetano is honored to carry on the family tradition.
“My uncle was in the Coast Guard,” said Gaetano. “My biggest influence to join was my hometown where there is a big naval base. It instilled the desire for me to serve.”
As a member of one of the U.S. Navy’s most relied-upon assets, Gaetano and other sailors know they are part of a legacy that will last beyond their lifetimes providing the Navy the nation needs.
“Serving in the Navy means being a part of something bigger than yourself,” added Gaetano.