Bakersfield Native Serves with High-Tech U.S. Navy Helicopter Squadron

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SAN DIEGO – Petty Officer 2nd Class Jason Henry, a native of Bakersfield, California, was inspired to join the Navy for travel opportunities.

“I wanted to get on the boat and travel around the world and see different countries,” Henry said.

Now, 10 years later, Henry serves with the Scorpions of Helicopter Maritime Squadron (HSM) 49, working with one of the Navy’s most advanced helicopters at Naval Air Station North Island, San Diego.

“This squadron is very family oriented,” Henry said. “We’re always pushing each other to do better at everything.”

Henry, a 2009 graduate of Stockdale High School, is an aircrew survival equipmentman with HSM 49, a versatile squadron that’s capable of completing a number of important missions for the Navy with the MH-60R “Seahawk” helicopter.

“We’re making sure pilots can fly with the gear that will get them home safe if problems arise,” said Henry.

Henry credits success in the Navy to many of the lessons learned in Bakersfield.

“My hometown taught me how to adapt to any situation that I’m in,” said Henry.

Helicopter Maritime Squadron (HSM) 49’s primary mission is to conduct sea control operations in open-ocean and coastal environments as an expeditionary unit. This includes hunting for submarines, searching for surface targets over the horizon and conducting search and rescue operations. 

According to Navy officials, the MH-60R is the Navy’s new primary maritime dominance helicopter. Greatly enhanced over its predecessors, the MH-60R helicopter features a glass cockpit and significant mission system improvements, which give it unmatched capability as an airborne multi-mission naval platform.

As the U.S. Navy’s next generation submarine hunter and anti-surface warfare helicopter, the MH-60R “Romeo” is the cornerstone of the Navy’s Helicopter Concept of Operations. Anti-submarine warfare and surface warfare are the MH-60R’s primary missions. Secondary missions include search and rescue, medical evacuation, vertical replenishment, naval surface fire support, communications relay, command, control, communications, command and control warfare and non-combat operations.

“It’s cool that the aircraft can find submarines anywhere,” said Henry.

Serving in the Navy means Henry 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, Henry is most proud of going on deployment and making it back safe.

“You get to go to other countries and be an ambassador for the U.S. and work with other countries’ navies,” said Henry.

As a member of one of the U.S. Navy’s most relied upon assets, Henry 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 freedom,” Henry said. “I feel like I’m part of the reason my family can sleep safe at night and nothing is going to happen.”

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