Originally from Palos Verdes Peninsula, Calif., I got into a bit of trouble when I was 18 and ended
up working at the Marine Corps Recruiting Station
doing community service, which was ironic because I
ended up almost joining the Marines.
At MEPS (Military Entrance Processing Station), I
was sitting around waiting for my recruiting sergeant
to take me home, so I checked out the other military
branches. I really wanted to work with aircraft and the
Navy reps pointed out that they have the most aircraft
and they are mostly on aircraft carriers.
So, I chose Aviation Electronics Technician (AT), but
got into trouble and lost the school. They sent me to the
USS John F. Kennedy as an undesignated airman recruit and
I ended up working with the crash and salvage crew on the
flight deck. I came to love being an ABH [Aviation
Boatswain’s Mate (Handler)] and the hard work and
reward that came with it. I ended up with a love of fire
services and firefighting and eventually rated as a 3rd-class
ABH. While an E- 5, I achieved an associate degree in Fire
Science and am currently working on my Bachelor of
Science degree in Fire, Arson and Explosion Investigation.
While assigned to Fentress Field in Chesapeake,
Va., my old chief who came to re-enlist me informed
me about the Flying Warrant Officer Program. I
applied twice. My division officer on USS Nimitz told
me not to give up after the first non-selection. I was
then selected as an alternate after the second set of
results came out. After Warrant Officer Indoctrination,
I entered the flight training pipeline and became a
naval flight officer in an EP- 3 electronic surveillance
aircraft with Fleet Air Reconnaissance Squadron Two
[VQ- 2], and then VQ- 1 when the squadrons merged.
In EP-3s, you begin as a navigator and work your way
through tactical evaluator to senior evaluator and, finally,
mission commander. You’re doing radio calls and working
with different entities, allies and assets around the world.
You also work with NIOC [Navy Information Operations
Command] to perform the mission in the aircraft.
The biggest eye-opener when I started working in the
EP- 3 was realizing that the Navy was a lot bigger than
the flight deck of a carrier, which had been my world.
Yes, we shot airplanes off the deck and, yes, they went
somewhere — where, I never knew.
Having flown in the EP- 3, my world expanded
beyond any fathomable proportion. You worked for huge
regional commands, able to communicate with the different levels and having actual mission conversations
with these people in real time was amazing. I would
never have experienced that had I not gone into EP-3s.
After a tour as department head at the Aviation
Survival Training Center in Pensacola, Fla., I’m going
to go back to sea, the USS Gerald R. Ford as a Tactical
Action Officer to once again be a part of that world but
on a much smaller scale.
Now, as a lieutenant — a Mustang with 17-plus years
in — any time that I counsel or interact with my Sailors,
I always reflect back to when I was an enlisted member
and the advice given by Mustangs ahead of me. Having
done the hard and dirty work of a young Sailor, you learn
humility and to do a job right. I attribute my selection
into the Flying Chief Warrant Officer Program because I
did those things. You may get knocked down, but it is
how you get up that really matters. ■
SEAPOWER / OCTOBER 2015 64
"The biggest eye-opener when I started working in the EP- 3 was realizing
that the Navy was a lot bigger than the flight deck of a carrier, which
had been my world."
LT Amy Blades-Langjahr
EP-3E Naval Flight Officer
Aviation Survival Training Center Pensacola, Fla.
IN MY OWN WORDS