By Stephanie Fox
Navy Office of Community Outreach
A Quincy, California, native is serving in the U.S. Navy as part of the nation’s nuclear deterrence mission at Strategic Communications Wing One (STRATCOMMWING ONE). Its TACAMO “Take Charge and Move Out” mission provides airborne communication links to nuclear missile units of U.S. Strategic Command.
Chief Petty Officer Robert Lockwood, a 1999 Quincy High School graduate, joined the Navy 23 years ago.
“I joined the Navy because I couldn’t afford college,” said Lockwood. “My hometown is very small and I was working at a feed store. There wasn’t a future in that for me. A friend of mine ended up joining and convinced me to join as well. The rest is history.”
Today, Lockwood serves as an aviation machinist’s mate.
“I love airplanes,” said Lockwood. “The best part about my job is when an airplane comes to us that’s broken, we fix it and we get to see it take off again. I take a lot of pride in that.”
Lockwood uses skills and values similar to those found in Quincy to succeed in the Navy.
“The lesson I learned from my hometown is the importance of community,” said Lockwood. “I went back to my hometown after 10 years of being away and people still called my name at the grocery store. The Navy is like that too. You may not see your fellow sailors for a few years, but when you do again it’s like no time has passed.”
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.
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 critical mission.
With more than 90 percent of all trade traveling by sea, and 95 percent of the world’s international phone and internet traffic carried through fiber optic cables lying on the ocean floor, Navy officials continue to emphasize that the prosperity and security of the United States is directly linked to a strong and ready Navy.
Serving in the Navy means Lockwood is part of a team that is taking on new importance in America’s focus on rebuilding military readiness, strengthening alliances and reforming business practices in support of the National Defense Strategy.
“The Navy is a large contributor to the National Defense Strategy,” said Lockwood. “The Navy is an ever-lasting presence. We’re everywhere. We’re ready to lend a hand or take care of business if needed.”
Lockwood and the sailors they serve with have many opportunities to achieve accomplishments during their military service.
“The Navy has been very good to me,” said Lockwood. “I’ve gotten three degrees paid for. I’ve also learned management skills that I can take with me when I conclude my Navy career. Obviously, every job has ups and downs, but the main thing about the Navy is the comradery and the travel. I’ve been to places people pay large amounts to visit for three days. I’ve been able to live there and receive a paycheck while there. That’s something to be proud of.”
As Lockwood and other sailors continue to perform missions, they take pride in serving their country in the United States Navy.
“To me, serving in the Navy is a family tradition,” added Lockwood. “For the past 100 years, the Navy and Marines have been in my blood. Now, my daughter is a Naval Sea Cadet and is planning to commission with the Navy next year.”