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

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Petty Officer 2nd Class Brody Burdette (Navy photograph by PO2 Jackson Brown)

Petty Officer 2nd Class Brody Burdette, a native of Las Vegas, was inspired to join the Navy for travel and adventure opportunities.

“I wanted to get out of the city I grew up in and see different parts of the world,” Burdett said.

Now, five years later, Burdette 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.

“We’ve gotten into a rhythm since we got through deployment,” Burdett said. “It’s nice to be able to know what’s coming. We have a schedule that we work with and we meet it.”

Burdette, a 2013 graduate of Palo Verde 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 work on anything that has to do with landing gear, tires and structural repair,” said Burdette.

Burdette credits success in the Navy to many of the lessons learned in Las Vegas.

“I learned that anyone can be a con man,” Burdett said. “I want to know the facts before I believe what someone says.”

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.

“I learned that no matter how much something costs, it takes an airframer to fix it most of the time,” said Burdette.

Serving in the Navy means Burdette 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, Burdette is most proud of his longevity with the squadron and completing two deployments in two different parts of the world.

“We’ve been to South China seas, the Middle East, Australia and Fiji,” Burdett said.

As a member of one of the U.S. Navy’s most relied upon assets, Burdette 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 purpose,” Burdette said. “It’s a driving force that gets you out of the bed every day, aside from my wife and daughter.”