SEAPOWER / OCTOBER 2013 64 WWW.SEAPOWERMAGAZINE.ORG
“The camaraderie is
great. You go out there
as a detachment with
the helicopter, so you
just get really tight
with your fellow pilots,
and especially with
your maintainers and
your younger enlisted
guys. It’s just the small
group concept that I
like a lot.”
I’m from the south side of Cedar Rapids, Iowa. After I earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Northern Iowa, I was commissioned a naval officer in 2000. I just always wanted to fly, and to travel and see
the world. I chose the helicopter community because with its mobility and versatility you can operate anywhere — off carriers and small ships, and from land.
My first tour was with HSL- 51 [Helicopter Anti-submarine Squadron Light
51] in Japan. My second was as a fleet readiness squadron instructor with HS-
10 [Helicopter Anti-submarine Squadron 10] in San Diego. After obtaining a
master’s degree at the Naval War College, I was safety officer and, later, training
officer for HSC- 9 [Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 9], an MH-60S squadron.
The breadth of [helo] missions we do is so great that you’ve got to be
ready to do them at a moment’s notice. The new [MH-60S] Sierra is bringing up a lot more missions along with it [and] new weapons systems as
well. It is challenging to focus on what we’re supposed to be good at. The
helicopter is indispensable; we’re always going to need it, especially with
ships. There is always going to be need on smaller ships for an aircraft that
can take off and land vertically full of passengers, full of a load.
My most interesting tour was a year with the Expeditionary Sea Combat
Unit in the Philippines. The helo community was strapped thin when I was
at HS- 10, so they asked for volunteers to form three detachments for the unit
and deploy. We supported SOF [special operations forces] flying close air
support, inserts and extracts, and CSAR [combat search and rescue].
We also flew “feel-good” missions in the Philippines. When a typhoon came
through, we flew search and rescue for an overturned ferry and then dropped
off food and water to all these austere towns that had all their roads washed out.
The camaraderie is great. You go out there as a detachment with the helicopter, so you just get really tight with your fellow pilots, and especially
with your maintainers and your younger enlisted guys. It’s just the small
group concept that I like a lot.
Most satisfying is the mission accomplishment. We get to go out there
and do a lot of the missions that we train for, so you actually get to see the
fruits of your labor instead of just practicing for the big show.
While with HSC- 9, I volunteered for a temporary assignment leading an
HSC- 22 detachment operating the MQ-8B Fire Scout [vertical takeoff
unmanned aerial vehicles] from the frigate USS Robert G. Bradley in the
southern Mediterranean, providing ISR [intelligence, surveillance and
reconnaissance] in support of Army SOF. We were watching the bad guys
who are plotting stuff against us. We know everything about them because
of the Fire Scout and the other ISR outfits that are out there and the [main-tenance] crews that keep the birds going.
Everything is about what we can see and the intelligence that we can
gather. We don’t do anything with poor intelligence or lack of intelligence
these days, so being out there will provide that real-time ISR, something
that everybody is screaming for. We don’t have enough and you can ask
any community, any operator that. There are not enough assets out there
to do what we’re trying to do now. n
Lt. Cmdr. Brett Meskimen
MH-60S Pilot and MQ-8B Fire Scout Operator
Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 9, Norfolk, Va.
IN MY OWN WORDS