Palmdale native serves with high-tech U.S. Navy helicopter squadron

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Petty Officer 2nd Class Jasan Williams (Navy photograph by by PO2 Jackson Brown)

Petty Officer 2nd Class Jasan Williams, a native of Palmdale, Calif., was inspired to join the U.S. Navy by his brother.

“My brother joined the military before me, and I saw his experiences and wanted that for myself,” said Williams.

Now, six years later, Williams serves with the Raptors of Helicopter Maritime Squadron (HSM) 71, working with one of the Navy’s most advanced helicopters at Naval Air Station North Island, San Diego.

“Life gets busy here sometimes, and the work can be tedious, but it’s important work,” said Williams.

Williams, a 2011 graduate of Palmdale High School, is an aviation structural mechanic with HSM 71, a versatile squadron that’s capable of completing a number of important missions for the Navy with the MH-60R “Seahawk” helicopter.

“I’m basically a fabricator for the body of the aircraft, and I also work on flight controls and landing gear,” said Williams. “I work on everything you can see on the aircraft.”

Williams credits success in the Navy to many of the lessons learned in Palmdale.

“I learned the importance of dependability growing up,” said Williams. “People coming to ask me for help is something that happens often both in and out of the military, so it’s important to be able to help them.”

HSM 71’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. 

“The flight controls and landing gear are unique about the aircraft, and we’re in possession of all of it,” said Williams.

Serving in the Navy means Williams 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, Williams is most proud of seeing his subordinates become peers.

“My subordinates working under me and achieving rank shows great progression as sailors, and I like seeing that progression, it’s inspirational,” said Williams.

As a member of one of the U.S. Navy’s most relied upon assets, Williams 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 gives me a sense of dedication,” said Williams. “This is a lifestyle of dedication, and I get to dedicate my time to the community.”