Queen Creek native serves with high-tech U.S. Navy helicopter squadron

Petty Officer 3rd Class Tyler Gneck. (Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Jackson Brown)

Petty Officer 3rd Class Tyler Gneck, a native of Queen Creek, was inspired to join the Navy for adventure, new experiences and a desire for new knowledge. 

Now, two years later, he serves with the Raptors of Helicopter Maritime Squadron (HSM) 71, working with one of the Navy’s most advanced helicopters at Naval Air Station North Island, San Diego.

“I prepare for, study and practice for real-life events that can occur during a deployment,” said Petty Officer 3rd Class Gneck.

Petty Officer 3rd Class Gneck, a 2013 graduate of Queen Creek High School, is a naval aircrewman wit HSM 71, a versatile squadron that’s capable of completing a number of important missions for the Navy with the MH-60R “Seahawk” helicopter.

“I use various equipment in MH-60R helicopters to locate and track surface ships and submarines,” Petty Officer 3rd Class Gneck said. “I also provide support as a rescue swimmer and door gunner and supply replenishment for Navy ships.”

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

“I learned about patriotism and having a strong work ethic,” he said.

HSM 71’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.

“The aircraft can do multiple missions,” Petty Officer 3rd Class Gneck said. “You can either be doing submarine tracking, a rescue mission or humanitarian work.”

Serving in the Navy means Petty Officer 3rd Class Gneck 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% of the Earth’s surface is covered by water; 80% of the world’s population lives close to a coast; and 90% 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, Petty Officer 3rd Class Gneck is most proud of serving in the Navy.

“Being in the Navy alone is a great reward,” Petty Officer 3rd Class Gneck said. “They have given me the opportunity to learn and to succeed.”

As a member of one of the U.S. Navy’s most relied upon assets, Gneck and other sailors know they are part of a legacy that will last beyond their lifetimes contributing to the Navy the nation needs.

“I’m a small piece in a huge puzzle,” Petty Officer 3rd Class Gneck said. “Everyone working together makes the Navy the greatest fighting force.”

Editor’s note: Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Jerry Jimenez is with the Navy Office of Community Outreach

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