Queen Creek native ensures effective combat operations for U.S. Navy

U.S. Navy Fireman Apprentice Andrew Rangel. (Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Bryan Dunn)

While most members of the U.S. Navy conduct deployments at sea as part of U.S. Navy warship crews, each year thousands of sailors are called upon to conduct non-traditional deployments, often in austere locations outside the maritime environment, in support of military missions around the globe.

A Queen Creek native and 2016 Queen Creek High School graduate is one of these sailors. Fireman Apprentice Andrew Rangel is serving in the U.S. Navy with Coastal Riverine Group One, operating out of San Diego.

Fireman Apprentice Rangel is an engineman responsible for maintenance of 25-foot boats.

He credits success in the Navy to many of the lessons learned in Queen Creek.

“My mom taught me about hard work and that you have to earn what you want,” said Fireman Apprentice Rangel. “I also learned the importance of responsibility and honesty.”

Sailors assigned to Coastal Riverine Group One operate in harbors, rivers, bays and other bodies of water near the shore. The men and women of Coastal Riverine Group One are responsible for training, coordinating and equipping Coastal Riverine Force squadrons in order to operate in high density, multi-threat environments. The Coastal Riverine Force’s primary mission is to conduct maritime security operations by defending high value assets, ports and harbors both inland and on coastal waterways against enemies and, when commanded, conduct offensive combat operations.

“I like the people I get to work with,” said Fireman Apprentice Rangel. “A lot of them have helped me learn tons of new things.”

Being stationed in San Diego, the principal homeport of the Pacific Fleet, means he is playing an important part in America’s focus on rebuilding military readiness, strengthening alliances and reforming business practices in support of the National Defense Strategy.

“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.”

Sailors’ jobs are highly varied in the support unit. More than 1,000 men and women make up the group, which prepares naval security units to deploy sailors to the Pacific, the Middle East, and Africa and includes three different Coastal Riverine Squadrons, one active and two reserve. Coastal Riverine Force sailors operate from different types of patrol craft including a 34-foot patrol boat and the Mk VI patrol boat, the newest craft in the Coastal Riverine Forces inventory.

Today’s riverine force is nestled inside Navy Expeditionary Combat Command but it evolved out of the sailors who served aboard PT boats in World War II and their brethren who fought in Vietnam. The riverine squadrons offer billets for sailors in 17 different ratings but the core skill sets are found with boatswain’s mates, enginemen, quartermasters and gunner’s mates. Most of their formal training occurs at a four-week course taught in Gulfport, Mississippi. That’s where they start to transform from shipboard sailors into expeditionary crews that can handle weapons and small unit tactics.

Serving in the Navy is a continuing tradition of military service for Fireman Apprentice Rangel, who has military ties with family members who have previously served. He is honored to carry on the family tradition.

“My grandpa was in the Army,” said Fireman Apprentice Rangel. “He definitely influenced me to join. I even have a tattoo of him on my arm. Once he passed, it pushed me forward to join instead of waiting around.”

As a member of one of the U.S. Navy’s most relied-upon assets, he and other riverine sailors know they are part of a legacy that will last beyond their lifetimes providing the Navy the nations needs.

“Serving in the Navy is a way for me to follow in my grandpa’s footsteps,” Fireman Apprentice Rangel added. “This is also a way for me to make my family proud.”

Editor’s note: Kayla Turnbow is with the Navy Office of Community Outreach.

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