NAS North Island is the Navy’s Master Helicopter Base and home to Helicopter Sea Combat Wing Pacific (HSCWP), led by Captain Will Eastham. As Commodore of HSCWP, Eastham is responsible for ensuring its 10 operational squadrons as well as the Weapons School are properly manned, trained, equipped and ready to deploy in support of our nation’s defense. According to their website, HSCWINGPAC has the responsibility to “Lead and set the vision for the HSC community. Our squadrons are focused on the day to day operations of maintaining and flying aircraft. We must advocate for the capabilities that the HSC brings to the Naval Aviation.”
The Navy’s unmanned helicopter, the MQ-8 Fire Scout, is another tool in the arsenal of HSCWP. Capt. Eastham said it is a great aircraft that offers ships a great ISR capability. You won’t see the Fire Scout flying from North Island because of airspace limitations, but it does operate from ships at sea and is based up near Point Mugu.
Captain Eastham grew up on a horse and cattle farm in Amissville, Virginia, and played baseball and basketball in high school. He went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in history from the University of Virginia (UVA). While at UVA he was part of the Navy Reserve Officer Training Corps and earned his commission upon graduation in 2000. Eastham reported to flight school and earned his Naval Aviator ‘Wings of Gold’ in 2002 before becoming qualified in the MH-60 Sierra Knighthawk Helicopter. Eastham had flying tours in Virginia Beach, Virginia, three tours in Coronado, and his command tour at HSC-25 in Guam. To round out his career he had a disassociated sea tour as a Shooter on board USS Ronald Reagan while it was stationed at NAS North Island, and a tour as DOD Coordinator with United States Strategic Command Center for Combating Weapons of Mass Destruction in Washington, D.C., and a tour as a detailer at Naval Personnel Command in Millington, TN.
While having a wide range of responsibilities as Commodore, Capt. Eastham is a very involved family man and enjoys being part of the Coronado community. Capt. Eastham met his wife Meghann while they were at UVA; Meghann is a nurse who currently works at Rady Children’s hospital. Eastham shared that their two children Jack (13) and Emme (9) really love Coronado and are actively involved in sports, Jack in little league and Emme in tumbling, cheerleading and soccer. He said, “I love living in Coronado, our kids are at an age now where we have been able to expand our network beyond the military community, mostly through kids’ sports but also through the schools. I helped coach Jack’s little league team last year and I feel as if we were really welcomed into this community.” With kids in the elementary school and middle school the Easthams enjoy the small town feel of Coronado and the wonderful education system and community.
Commodore Eastham, as a resident and active Coronado Community member, understands the importance of the strong relationship between the city and his wing and said, “We appreciate the grace the community gives us as a helicopter community flying around Coronado. We do all we can to minimize disturbance to the community and we are thankful for their support.” He is happy that local squadrons can engage with the community and bring an understanding of the importance of the military to our nation’s defense. He talked about the recent visit one of the helicopters conducted on Veterans Day to the elementary school and emphasized the value of exposing young minds to the opportunities, education and exciting jobs the military has to offer.