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Wausau West grad serves with U.S. Navy helicopter squadron in Hawaii

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By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Brian T. Glunt, Navy Office of Community Outreach

SAN DIEGO – A 2001 Wausau West High School graduate and Wausau, native is serving in the U.S. Navy with Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM 37) stationed at the U.S. Marine Corps Base Hawaii in Kaneohe Bay.
Lt. Cmdr. Jason Elfe is a Navy pilot serving with HSM 37, a versatile squadron that’s capable of completing a number of important missions for the Navy with the MH-60R “Seahawk” helicopter.

As a Navy pilot and squadron department head, Elfe is responsible for leading sailors in helicopter maintenance and pilots flying missions to keep ocean shipping safe.

Elfe credits success in the Navy to many of the lessons learned in Wausau.

“My hometown taught me hard work and never giving up is how to achieve the most challenging goals,” said Elfe.

A key element of the Navy the nation needs is tied to the fact that America is a maritime nation, according to Navy officials, 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.

Being stationed in Hawaii, often referred to as the gateway to the Pacific in defense circles, means Elfe is serving in a part of the 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.

“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.”

The Pacific is home to more than 50 percent of the world’s population, many of the world’s largest and smallest economies, several of the world’s largest militaries, and many U.S. allies. The Navy has been pivotal in helping maintain peace and stability in the Pacific region for decades.

Serving in the Navy is a continuing tradition of military service for Elfe, who has military ties with family members who have previously served. Elfe is honored to carry on that family tradition.

“Both of my grandfathers served in the military,” said Elfe. “Even though they were drafted, their service inspired me to volunteer and join the Navy.”

HSM 37’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, if required.

According to Navy officials, the MH-60R is the Navy’s new primary maritime dominance helicopter, replacing the SH-60B and SH-60F aircraft. 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.

Though there are many ways for sailors to earn distinction in their command, community and career, Elfe is most proud of being a naval test pilot.

“I am proud of being a test pilot because I had the responsibility to make aircraft safer and more effective for the next generation of pilots,” said Elfe.

As a member of one of the U.S. Navy’s most relied-upon assets, Elfe and other sailors know they are part of a legacy that will last beyond their lifetimes providing the Navy the nation needs.

“Serving at my current duty station in Kaneohe Bay is a unique opportunity to enjoy the beauty of the island and the camaraderie of being the only Navy squadron stationed in Hawaii,” Elfe said. “It’s important for me to carry on the tradition of protecting my country so that everyone has the opportunity to pursue whatever interests them.”

Published with permission from the Navy Office of Community Outreach. Photo courtesy the Navy Office of Community Outreach.

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