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Ada native supports U.S. Navy airborne communication

By Stephanie Fox
Navy Office of Community Outreach

Navy stories include 3rd-generation enlisted sailor from Ada

TINKER AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. - Ada native Cole East is serving in the U.S. Navy as part of the nation’s nuclear deterrence mission at Strategic Communications Wing One (STRATCOMMWING ONE), in a mission provides airborne communication links to nuclear missile units of U.S. Strategic Command.

East, a 2016 Ada High School graduate, joined the Navy four years ago.

"I always knew I wanted to join the Navy after high school,” said East. “I joined the Navy to better myself and to get life experience.”

“My hometown is a small town,” said East. "The small-town vibe taught me to work hard. You get what you put in. That's true in the Navy too."

The Navy's presence aboard an Air Force base in the middle of America may seem like an odd location given its distance from any ocean; however, the central location allows for the deployment of aircraft to both coasts and the Gulf of Mexico on a moment’s notice. This quick response is key to the success of the nuclear deterrence mission.

The Navy command consists of a Wing staff, the Center for Naval Aviation Technical Training, and three Fleet Air Reconnaissance Squadrons: The "Ironmen" of VQ 3, the "Shadows" of VQ 4 and the “Roughnecks” of VQ 7.

East serves as a naval aircrewman with VQ 3.

“My favorite thing about my job is getting to fly,” said East. "I get to see things that a normal 24 year-old doesn't.”

STRATCOMMWING One employs more than 1,300 active-duty sailors and 100 contractors to provide maintenance, security, operations, administration, training and logistic support for the Boeing E-6 Mercury aircraft fleet, an airborne command post and communications relay based on the Boeing 707.

Their mission stems from the original 1961 Cold War order known as ‘Take Charge and Move Out!’ Adapted as TACAMO and now the command’s nickname, the men and women of TACAMO continue to provide a survivable communication link between national decision makers and the nation’s nuclear weapons.

The commander-in-chief issues orders to members of the military who operate nuclear weapons aboard submarines, aircraft or in land-based missile silos. Sailors aboard TACAMO E-6 Mercury aircraft provide the one-of-a-kind and most-survivable communication needed for this critical mission.

“My proudest accomplishment in the Navy is advancing in rank to petty officer second class,” said East. "I'm also proud to have been certified as a flight instructor and earning my Wings of Gold."