Rad Jobs: Aircrewman for the U.S. Navy
When Alejandro Rojas departs for a mission as a second-class Aircrewman for our U.S. Navy, he conducts what he refers to as a “silent leave.” He doesn’t tell his friend the exact date of his departure, and he doesn’t create a dramatic scene.
This act within itself encompasses the selflessness Rojas must possess to be a Naval Aircrewman.
At 29, Rojas has given almost 8 years of service, and has logged over 1,600 flight hours in the process. While in flight, Rojas works with tactical systems to detect and identify aquatic vessels, as well as rescue pilots and civilians alike from capsized vessels, even providing humanitarian support in cases of natural disasters.
Despite the great responsibility that comes with being an Aircrewman, Rojas recognizes the amount of humility needed to complete a successful mission.
“You can’t be fearless. You have to have some sense of fear. If you don’t do what you’re supposed to do, then yeah, you can crash. You’re flying in a big chunk of metal in the sky. If something goes wrong, you’re coming down,” Rojas said.
Ultimately, an affinity for the ocean and an insatiable desire to help those in need has lead Rojas around the world to fulfill these yearnings. Throughout his years of service, Rojas has traveled to Turkey, Sicily, Greece, Israel, Romania and Bulgaria, to name a few.
Despite Rojas’ successes in his missions, including the seizure of 4,700 pounds of marijuana and 4,300 kilos of cocaine with an estimated street value of over $400 million to be trafficked into the U.S., it is the continuation of the brotherhood of the Navy that Rojas finds most rewarding in his career.
“When you go out for deployment, you have two junior guys under you and your job is to train them and make sure they can fly by themselves and that you have any mishaps to make it home. Being able to come home from my last deployment and have my juniors come home safe … that was probably my proudest moment,” Rojas said.
Aside from the physical demands of being a part of the service, Rojas is charged with the responsibility of making quick decisions in any time of need.
“The scariest part has to be flying to the back of the boat in the middle of the night with no moonlight,” he said. “The boat is rocking with the sea and the helicopter is moving with the wind and we have to land on a flight deck that barely fits on the boat itself. We’re helping guide the helicopter in by telling them to come forward or not, which can be scary, especially when you have a junior pilot. That’s where most crashes come from, taking off and landing on a ship.”
Being a Naval Aircrewman requires tact, discipline and courage, but more importantly it requires being a part of a brotherhood that is the U.S. Navy.
Rojas has learned just that.