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CHIPS Articles: Keeping up with the Navy’s Flying Eagles

Keeping up with the Navy’s Flying Eagles
By Navy Office of Community Outreach - March 17, 2015
LEMOORE, Calif. – The Flying Eagles are the Navy’s West Coast Fleet Replacement Squadron for the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet. They train aircrew and maintainers to prepare them to go to the fleet and join the squadrons that fly the Super Hornet. VFA-122 trained aircrews have flown combat missions in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, Operation Enduring Freedom, and Operation Inherent Resolve.

Sailors’ jobs are highly varied in VFA-122. Approximately 220 officers, 660 enlisted and 260 civilian men and women make up and keep all parts of the squadron running smoothly — this includes everything from maintaining aircraft airframes and engines, to processing paperwork, handling weaponry, and flying the aircraft.

“The Sailors here are the epitome of a team,” said Cmdr. Ernie Spence, VFA-122’s commanding officer. “Everyone here is professional, skilled in their job, and they are great team players which enables us to accomplish our mission.”

Airman Apprentice Eric Lewis, a 2010 Kecoughtan High School graduate and Hampton, Virginia native is currently serving with the U.S. Navy’s Strike Fighter Squadron 122, also known as the “Flying Eagles,” stationed at Naval Air Station Lemoore.

Lewis is an aviation electronics technician with the squadron, which the Navy designates as VFA-122, and works with the Navy’s most lethal and versatile strike fighter aircraft, the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet.

“I troubleshoot communications, radar, and navigation systems on the aircraft,” said Lewis.

The Super Hornet takes off from and lands on Navy aircraft carriers and is capable of conducting air-to-air combat as well as air-to-surface combat. It is approximately 61 feet long, has a loaded weight of 51,000 lbs., and a max speed of 1,190 miles per hour.

“There are always opportunities to learn because there are so many aircraft in this squadron,” said Lewis.

Lewis said he is proud of the work he is doing as part of the squadron’s 1140-member team, helping to protect America on the world’s oceans.

“When we do our job, we give the pilots the ability to do their job properly,” said Lewis. “It’s a team effort. I am glad that I have the opportunity to serve. The Navy has made me a more rounded person because of the opportunity to travel and learn different cultures.”

Petty Officer 2nd Class Montana Salavea is an aviation ordnanceman with the squadron.

A 2000 Great Bridge High School graduate and Chesapeake, Virginia native, Salavea said, “My job is to train junior Sailors and ensure they are combat ready.”

Operating from the sea aboard aircraft carriers, the Super Hornet gives the Navy the power to protect America’s interests anywhere, at any time. The versatile jet has the ability to destroy targets located hundreds of miles inland, without the need to get another country’s permission to operate within its borders.

“I am happy that I am shaping and molding future ordnancemen,” said Salavea.

Salavea said he is proud of the work he is doing as part of the squadron’s 1140-member team, helping to protect America on the world’s oceans.

“My job is imperative because training is the first step to success on any mission,” said Salavea.

For more Navy news, please visit Navy News Service.

Airman Apprentice Eric Lewis. U.S. Navy photo.
Airman Apprentice Eric Lewis. U.S. Navy photo.

Petty Officer 2nd Class Montana Salavea. U.S. Navy photo.
Petty Officer 2nd Class Montana Salavea. U.S. Navy photo.
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