Aircraft aboard the U.S.S Harry S Truman varies greatly. From fighter jets to helicopters to the E2D Hawkeye- the so-called 'eyes in the sky'. "The E2D Hawkeye is basically a command and control platform. We're the eyes of the skies for the fleet." says Ensign Gregory Myers of York County.
The Hawkeye is the first airplane to take off from the aircraft carrier and the last to return. The airplane gives an aerial view of the battlefield. Myers says, "Think of it like standing on top of your house and looking around, or looking at it from a hawk up in the air. You get a lot better view. A lot nicer picture. So that's what we do. We provide that situational awareness to the battleground in general."
Myers is 2005 grad of Susquehannock High School. He's been in the Navy 13 years. He's his squadron's officer in charge of the Hawkeyes' maintenance. "So I do the production and help source parts. I make sure the procedures are being followed to fix the aircraft. So when the air crew go flying they have a good asset to fly and do what they need to do in the battle." Myer's squadron has 4 Hawkeyes on board the Truman. Each day he recognizes the importance of his and his team's work. "Every time it takes off and lands there is a lot of maintainance that goes into it. Lots of man hours. It's just incredible to see a very young person be able to fix a machine like this and bring it back into combat".
When it come to combat operations, another Central Pennsylvanian is on the forefront on board an MH-53 Echo Sea Dragon helicopter. "It's primary mission is mine countermeasures. We also do a lot of logistics and heavy lift capability." Drake Dunlap is a 2010 graduate of Eastern High School in York County. He's the crew chief in side the massive helicopter. "Anytime we are doing mine counter measures missions, I'm the safety observer in charge of making sure the gear gets put the back and back in safely. During any logistics mission or heavy lifts, I'll make sure everything is tied down properly or all squared away. It's the same thing for the heavy lift operations."
Dunlap has spent quite a bit of time with his squadron in the middle east. Three tours stationed in Bahrain. "Kind of in charge of keeping the shipping lanes clear in the straits of Hormuz around the Iran area."
While the main mission of the MH-53 is mine detection, it can do quite a bit more. The helicopter is capable of holding quite a bit of cargo and passengers- both of which came into play when they were used in Texas following Hurricane Harvey. That's why when the squadron isn't deployed members are always training. Dunlap says, "Always training! Always got to be ready in case a situation does arise when we are called to do our job."
Dunlap has been in the navy for 6 years and says his service to his country is his way of saying thank you. "Primarily I like giving back to the people who gave so much to me going up through like teachers, friends, family. Just knowing that you are doing something good for them too."