Gary native patrols seas from the air for U.S. Navy

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Petty Officer 3rd Class Paige Peterson (Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Emilia Hilliard)

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Jackson G. Brown, Navy Office of Community Outreach

Petty Officer 3rd Class Paige Peterson, a native of Gary, Indiana, joined the Navy for opportunity. “I wanted to find other opportunities, as well as being a part of something bigger than myself,” said Peterson.

Now, two and a half years after joining the Navy, Peterson serves with the “Grey Knights” of Maritime Patrol and  Reconnaissance Squadron (VP) 46, working with the Navy’s cutting-edge maritime patrol and reconnaissance aircraft at Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, Washington.

“Our squadron is transitioning to a new aircraft, so life is busy, but we’re all working to get an important job done,” said Peterson.

Peterson, a 2013 graduate of Gary Lighthouse Charter School, is a yeoman with VP-46, a high-tech maritime patrol and reconnaissance squadron tasked with monitoring the world’s oceans in the state-of-the-art P-8A “Poseidon.”

“Being a yeoman is like being an administrative assistant,” said Peterson. “I work with a lot of correspondence and customer service, and I manage the office.” Peterson credits success in the Navy to many of the lessons learned in Gary. “I learned that your circumstances don’t define you, that hard work can get you anywhere,” said Peterson. “That’s really helped me in the Navy.”

VP-46’s primary mission is to conduct maritime patrol and reconnaissance as well as long-range anti-submarine warfare, anti-surface warfare and intelligence gathering missions. They deploy around the world to monitor the world’s oceans wherever they are needed.

The P-8A Poseidon, the Navy’s newest maritime, patrol and reconnaissance aircraft, is a replacement aircraft for the legacy P-3C “Orion.”

According to Navy officials, leveraging the experience and technology of the successful P-3C “Orion” with the needs of the fleet, the P-8A is designed to be combat-capable, and to improve an operator’s ability to efficiently conduct anti-submarine warfare; anti-surface warfare; and intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance missions.

As the Navy transitions to full capacity with the P-8A “Poseidon,” the aircraft continues the work-horse tradition established by the P-3C “Orion.” The P-8A has a planned state-of-the-art open architecture mission system and next-generation sensors. These capabilities give warfighters added protection.

The aircraft empowers the fleet with more combat capability, responsiveness, and interoperability with traditional manned forces and evolving unmanned sensors. The P-8A “Poseidon” has significant growth potential, with planned, phased-in technological improvements that extend global reach, payload capacity and higher-operating altitude.

“Getting to know about the aircraft has been a big learning experience for us,” said Peterson. Serving in the Navy means Peterson is part of a world 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.

A key element of the Navy the nation needs is tied to the fact that America is a maritime nation, 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.

“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, Peterson is most proud of getting through her first deployment.

“I spent six months in the Middle East, and that was really hard at first, but I persevered and made it home after we completed our mission,” said Peterson.

As a member of one of the U.S. Navy’s most relied upon assets, Peterson 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 a lot to me,” said Peterson “I’m doing something to serve my country, and that’s important to me.”

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