TINKER AIR FORCE BASE, Oklahoma – A Santa Clarita native and 2020 California State University graduate is serving in the U.S. Navy as part of the nation’s nuclear deterrence mission at Strategic Communications Wing One. Its TACAMO (“Take Charge and Move Out”) mission provides airborne communication links to nuclear missile units of U.S. Strategic Command.
Airman Isaiah Cervantes, a 2014 Golden Valley High School graduate, joined the Navy one year ago.
“I joined the Navy to get an education for free, for the financial stability the military provides and to carry on a family tradition,” said Cervantes. “My uncle, John, served the Navy for 40 years. My grandfather was in both World War I and World War II. Now, I get to continue that family legacy of service.”
Cervantes uses skills and values similar to those found in Santa Clarita to succeed in the Navy. “My hometown taught me to be open-minded to people’s different walks of life,” said Cervantes.
The Navy’s presence aboard an Air Force base in the middle of America may seem like an odd location given its distance from any ocean. However, the central location allows for the deployment of aircraft to both coasts and the Gulf of Mexico on a moment’s notice. This quick response is key to the success of the nuclear deterrence mission.
The Navy command consists of a Wing staff, the Center for Naval Aviation Technical Training, and three Fleet Air Reconnaissance Squadrons: The “Ironmen” of VQ 3, the “Shadows” of VQ 4 and the “Roughnecks” of VQ 7.
Cervantes serves as an aviation mechanic with VQ 3.
“My favorite thing about my job is getting to acquire new skills I didn’t have prior to enlisting,” said Cervantes. “I’m proud I’ve been able to overcome my self-doubts and get to be an asset to my shipmates.”
STRATCOMMWING One employs more than 1,300 active-duty sailors and 100 contractors to provide maintenance, security, operations, administration, training and logistic support for the Boeing E-6 Mercury aircraft fleet, an airborne command post and communications relay based on the Boeing 707.
Their mission stems from the original 1961 Cold War order known as “Take Charge and Move Out!” Adapted as TACAMO and now the command’s nickname, the men and women of TACAMO continue to provide a survivable communication link between national decision makers and the nation’s nuclear weapons.
The commander-in-chief issues orders to members of the military who operate nuclear weapons aboard submarines, aircraft or in land-based missile silos. Sailors aboard TACAMO E-6 Mercury aircraft provide the one-of-a-kind and most-survivable communication needed for this mission.
“It is pivotal to have a branch like the Navy to defend our democracy and liberty,” said Cervantes. “It is incumbent on all citizens to protect what’s worth fighting for.”
“Serving in the Navy means serving a purpose higher than yourself,” added Cervantes. “It means protecting my fellow countrymen. It is the ultimate act to give back to the community. It’s an honor to coalesce with complete strangers from all walks of life in order to serve one common goal despite our upbringings, trials and tribulations.”