Chula Vista Native Serves with High-Tech U.S. Navy Helicopter Squadron

Petty Officer 2nd Class Alyza Marie Santos, a native of Chula Vista, California, inspired by grandparents who served in the Navy.

 

Now, eight years later, Santos serves with the Scorpions of Helicopter Maritime Squadron (HSM) 49, working with one of the Navy’s most advanced helicopters at Naval Air Station North Island, San Diego.

“I enjoy working here,” Santos said. “I feel relaxed. I have time to do work and to do everything I need to do personally and professionally.”

Santos, a 2009 graduate of Otay Ranch High School, is an information systems technician with HSM 49, a versatile squadron that’s capable of completing a number of important missions for the Navy with the MH-60R “Seahawk” helicopter.

“I provide IT support, like Best Buy Geek Squad,” said Santos.

Santos credits success in the Navy to many of the lessons learned in Chula Vista.

“I learned patience growing up which has helped me a lot in the Navy,” said Santos.

HSM 49’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.

Serving in the Navy means Santos 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, Santos is most proud of being on deployments.

“I didn’t think I’d be able to do it,” Santos said. “I thought I would be sad, but I wasn’t.”

As a member of one of the U.S. Navy’s most relied upon assets, Santos 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 is part of my family history,” added Santos.

Get breaking Coronado news in your inbox >> SUBSCRIBE

Avatar
Originally from upstate New York, Dani Schwartz has lived in Coronado since 1996. She is thrilled to call Coronado home and raise her two children here. In her free time enjoys hitting the gym, reading, and walking her dog around the “island.”Have news to share? Send tips, story ideas or letters to the editor to: manager@coronadotimes.com