OAK HARBOR, Wash. — Airman Sydney Cates, a native of Dayton, joined the Navy to be a part of a tradition of military service.
Now, two years after joining the Navy, Cates serves with the “Rooks” of Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) 137, working with the Navy’s premier electronic attack aircraft at Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, Wash.
“The people I work with are the best part of this command,” said Cates. “They are fantastic and know what they are doing.”
Cates, a 2017 graduate of Dayton High School, is an aviation structural mechanic with Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) 137, a high-tech electronic attack squadron capable of altering the outcome of any engagement with the EA-18G “Growler.”
“I am basically responsible for the external work on military aircraft,” said Cates.
Cates credits success in the Navy to many of the lessons learned in Dayton.
“Working with my grandfather on farms taught me the importance of hard work,” said Cates. “I never start a job and not finish it.”
Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) 137’s primary mission is to conduct airborne electronic warfare while embarked with a carrier air wing. They deploy with aircraft carriers to project electronic attack dominance anywhere in the world at any time. This includes suppression of enemy radar systems, sensor jamming and electronic protection.
The EA-18G “Growler” is the most advanced airborne electronic attack (AEA) platform in production today, according to Navy officials. The Navy invests in advanced “Growler” capabilities to ensure it continues to protect all strike aircraft during high-threat missions for decades to come.
“The mission of our command is crucial, and what I do is crucial enough to affect the mission,” said Cates.
Serving in the Navy means Cates 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, Cates is most proud of overcoming fear of the flight deck.
“It took me just being on the flight deck everyday for six months, and I just got used to it,” said Cates.
As a member of one of the U.S. Navy’s most relied upon assets, Cates 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 means making my family back home proud,” said Cates.