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'Trackers' Return From Deployment

Navy NewsStand

Story Number: NNS070502-17
Release Date: 5/2/2007 4:12:00 PM

By Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Rialyn Rodrigo, Naval Air Forces Public Affairs and Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron Light 43 Public Affairs

NORTH ISLAND, Calif. (NNS) -- Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron Light (HSL) 43 Detachment 6, the “Trackers,” returned May 1 after completing a six-month deployment to the western Pacific Ocean and Philippine Sea.

HSL-43 deployed aboard USS Rentz (FFG 46), supporting the global war on terrorism, Operation Enduring Freedom – Philippines (OEF-P), and Operation Ultimatum while assigned to Combined Joint Task Force (CJTF) 515.

Detachment 6 deployed Nov. 1 with a team of five pilots, two aircrew members, and 13 maintenance personnel. They flew more than 400 mishap-free flight hours while engaged in numerous operational missions.

“Over the six-month-deployment period, these Sailors consistently dedicated themselves,” said Lt. Cmdr. Ron Dowell, Detachment 6 officer in charge. “It was a challenging deployment; a deployment that removed sons, fathers and husbands away from their families during the entire holiday season. It was a deployment that subjected the Sailors to hot and humid conditions and an unyielding work schedule.”

In spite of all the challenges, the morale of the Sailors was sky high, according to Dowell,
because they were engaged in a mission providing support to stop terrorism in the Pacific region, and they enjoyed the unwavering support of the American people.

The deployment was marked with significant milestones. While deployed, Aviation Warfare Systems Operator 2nd Class (AW) Aaron Messner’s wife gave birth to a son.

“I was shocked, speechless,” said Messner. “There are no words to express the way I felt. So many feelings ranging from happiness, knowing my son was born healthy and strong, and my wife was doing well, to sadness knowing that I missed a moment with my wife that we cannot replace.”

Trackers accomplished other milestones as well. Aviation Machinist’s Mate 2nd Class Jesse Van Wickel, Aviation Electronic Technician 2nd Class Michael Kinnaird, Aviation Technician 2nd Class Herbert Shelby, Aviation Warfare Systems Operator 2nd Class Aaron Messner, and Aviation Structural Mechanic 3rd Class Jeffery Killcoyne all qualified as Enlisted Aviation Warfare specialists.

“It is a great start to future success in my military career,” said Shelby. “It is a great stepping stone because this pin shows hard work and dedication.”

Additionally, Aviation Machinist’s Mate 2nd Class (AW) Senh Phu and Aviation Maintenance Administrationman 3rd Class (AW) Gabriel Strickland qualified as Enlisted Surface Warfare specialists.

“I thank each one of them for their valiant service,” said Dowell. “They represent the best qualities of American society.”

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