Palatine native carries on family tradition in the Navy
As a member of the oldest Maritime Strike Squadron, Petty Officer 2nd Class Kevin Dwyer is part of a Naval legacy.
Dwyer is an aircrew survival equipmentman, responsible for ensuring that life preservers and life rings are functioning properly as part of Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 71, which supports the aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis.
"Knowing that I'm responsible for things that can save a life is very rewarding to me," said Dwyer "In 2013, while I was deployed aboard USS Carl Vinson, the commanding officer of my F-18 squadron had to eject from his aircraft. His ejection seat, his parachute and his flotation equipment worked exactly the way it was supposed to. He was recovered safely."
Dwyer is a 2004 Crystal Lake Central High School graduate and native of Palatine.
According to Dwyer, the values required to succeed in the Navy are similar to those found in Palatine.
"I started work very young, so I learned the importance of responsibility, doing your best and reaching out to achieve your goals," said Dwyer.
With more than 90 percent of all trade traveling by sea, and 95 percent of the world's international phone and internet traffic carried through fiber optic cables lying on the ocean floor, Navy officials continue to emphasize that the prosperity and security of the United States is directly linked to a strong and ready Navy.
Sailors assigned to HSM-71 are a part of history, flying with "Romeo" helicopters, the newest and most advanced in the fleet. Helicopters are equipped with the ability to conduct replenishments at sea, search and rescue missions and support operations.
The members of HSM-71 achieve excellence in military performance and create an example for other squadrons to follow through operational readiness, innovation and weapon development.
HSM-71 sailors play a critical role in supporting the Navy's aircraft carriers. Aircraft carriers and carrier strike groups remain the centerpiece of our nation's security strategy, supporting and protecting America's national interests around the world. Carrier strike groups operate across the entire spectrum of military operations, according to Navy officials.
According to Admiral Mike Gilday, the chief of Naval Operations, the focus of today's Navy is squarely on warfighting, warfighters and the capabilities needed for the Navy of the future.
"I am confident we will maximize the Navy we have today while delivering the Navy that our nation will rely upon tomorrow," said Gilday. "And we will do so with urgency. Our fleet will be a potent, formidable force that competes around the world every day, deterring those who would challenge us while reassuring our allies and partners."
There are many opportunities for sailors to earn recognition in their command, community and careers. Dwyer is most proud of earning designation as plane captain.
"I had to work hard, study a lot and train to learn the whole aircraft," said Dwyer. "I had to pass interviews and tests to ensure I can safely launch and recover aircraft."
For Dwyer, serving in the Navy is a tradition passed down from generations and one Dwyer hopes to continue.
"One grandfather was in the Navy and another grandfather was in the Army," said Dwyer.
"There's a lot of honor carrying on their tradition. I understand how much it meant to them to serve in the military."
As a member of the U.S. Navy, Dwyer, as well as other sailors, know they are a part of a service tradition providing unforgettable experiences through leadership development, world affairs and humanitarian assistance. Their efforts will have a lasting effect around the globe and for generations of sailors who will follow.
"Serving in the Navy means that I'm doing more with my life than I could have on the outside," said Dwyer. "I feel like I'm accomplishing something important and going in the right direction."