2015 Pittsburg High grad
By Stephanie Fox, Navy Office of Community Outreach
SAN DIEGO – Seaman Apprentice Taylor Sledge, a native of Pittsburg, California, serves in the U.S. Navy in San Diego, California.
“I joined the Navy for my son,” said Sledge. “I also wanted more for myself, and I wanted to experience a new environment. The Navy provided those opportunities to me.”
Sledge joined the Navy one year ago. Today, Sledge serves with Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron SIX (HSC 6) in San Diego, working with one of the Navy’s most advanced helicopters, the MH-60S Knighthawk.
Growing up in Pittsburg, Sledge attended Encinal Junior and Senior High Schools and graduated in 2015. Today, Sledge uses the same skills and values learned in Pittsburg to succeed in the military.
“Growing up, I was taught to be versatile,” said Sledge. “It’s important to be able to adapt to any new environment. It’s also important to just be a good person.”
These lessons have helped Sledge while serving in the Navy.
Navy pilots and aircrew at HSC 6 constantly train to ensure they are prepared for peacetime and warfighting missions. The mission set of the MH-60S includes anti-surface warfare, search and rescue, vertical replenishment, logistics support, personnel transport, humanitarian disaster relief, medical evacuation, support to Naval Special Warfare and organic airborne mine, countermeasures. MH-60S helicopters are also equipped with the ability to conduct replenishments at sea, search and rescue missions and enable other operations for the carrier strike group.
“For over 60 years, HSC 6 has provided all-weather rotary wing operations to America’s Navy,” said HSC 6 Commanding Officer Cmdr. Charles A. Chmielak. “Whether it’s recovering the astronauts of Apollo 14 after they returned to Earth or deploying around the world to preserve free and open sea lanes, our highly trained sailors have always answered the call, wherever and whenever the nation needs them.”
Serving in the Navy means Sledge is part of a team that is taking on new importance in America’s focus, rebuilding military readiness, strengthening alliances and reforming business practices in support of the National Defense Strategy.
“The Navy makes sure everyone is safe and everything is fair across the board by keeping the seas free,” said Sledge.
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.
According to Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Mike Gilday, four priorities will focus efforts on sailors, readiness, capabilities, and capacity.
“For 245 years, in both calm and rough waters, our Navy has stood the watch to protect the homeland, preserve freedom of the seas, and defend our way of life,” said Gilday. “The decisions and investments we make this decade will set the maritime balance of power for the rest of this century. We can accept nothing less than success.”
Sledge and the sailors they serve with have many opportunities to achieve accomplishments during their military service.
“My proudest naval accomplishment is sticking with the military track,” said Sledge. “I’ve had a lot of different jobs in the past, but this is a position you have to keep working through and learning from. I’m proud of myself for staying the course.”
As Sledge and other sailors continue to train and perform the missions they are tasked with, they take pride in serving their country in the United States Navy.
“To me, serving in the Navy means teamwork,” added Sledge. “There’s a lot of teamwork and initiative that goes into service. Being able to be surrounded by like-minded people makes the work easier.”