A 2011 Atholton High School graduate and Columbia, Maryland, native is serving in the U.S. Navy with Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM 37) stationed at the U.S. Marine Corps Base Hawaii in Kaneohe Bay.
Lt. j.g. Brett Nellis is a Navy helicopter pilot serving with HSM 37, a versatile squadron that’s capable of completing a number of important missions for the Navy with the MH-60R “Seahawk” helicopter.
A Navy helicopter pilot is responsible for flying the MH-60R helicopter and training to conduct combat and search and rescue missions.
Nellis credits success in the Navy to many of the lessons learned in Columbia.
“I learned about perseverance growing up in Columbia,” said Nellis. “If something does not go your way you keep working hard until it does.”
A key element of the Navy the nation needs is tied to the fact that America is a maritime nation, according to Navy officials, and that the nation’s prosperity is tied to the ability to operate freely on the world’s oceans. More than 70 percent of the Earth’s surface is covered by water; 80 percent of the world’s population lives close to a coast; and 90 percent of all global trade by volume travels by sea.
Being stationed in Hawaii, often referred to as the gateway to the Pacific in defense circles, means Nellis is serving in a part of the world 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.
“Our priorities center on people, capabilities and processes, and will be achieved by our focus on speed, value, results and partnerships,” said Secretary of the Navy Richard V. Spencer. “Readiness, lethality and modernization are the requirements driving these priorities.”
The Pacific is home to more than 50 percent of the world's population, many of the world's largest and smallest economies, several of the world's largest militaries, and many U.S. allies. The Navy has been pivotal in helping maintain peace and stability in the Pacific region for decades.
Serving in the Navy is a continuing tradition of military service for Nellis, who has military ties with family members who have previously served. Nellis is honored to carry on that family tradition.
“My grandfather served onboard the USS Missouri during the Korean War,” said Nellis. “He always wanted to be a helicopter pilot and in a way I am carrying on his legacy.”
HSM 37's primary mission is to conduct sea control operations in open-ocean and coastal environments as an expeditionary unit. This includes hunting for submarines, searching for surface targets over the horizon and conducting search and rescue operations, if required.
According to Navy officials, the MH-60R is the Navy's new primary maritime dominance helicopter, replacing the SH-60B and SH-60F aircraft. Greatly enhanced over its predecessors, the MH-60R helicopter features a glass cockpit and significant mission system improvements, which give it unmatched capability as an airborne multi-mission naval platform.
As the U.S. Navy's next generation submarine hunter and anti-surface warfare helicopter, the MH-60R "Romeo" is the cornerstone of the Navy's Helicopter Concept of Operations. Anti-submarine warfare and surface warfare are the MH-60R's primary missions. Secondary missions include search and rescue, medical evacuation, vertical replenishment, naval surface fire support, communications relay, command, control, communications, command and control warfare and non-combat operations.
Though there are many ways for sailors to earn distinction in their command, community, and career, Nellis is most proud of earning his pilot wings in Pensacola, Florida.
“It took me two years of tough training to earn my wings,” said Nellis. “I learned to fly two different aircraft in only a few months each. It took lots of hard work and perseverance to complete the training.”
As a member of one of the U.S. Navy’s most relied-upon assets, Nellis and other sailors know they are part of a legacy that will last beyond their lifetimes providing the Navy the nation needs.
“Serving here in Hawaii is a dream come true. Every person here is willing to help and the location is great,” added Nellis. “I get the privelege of flying for the greatest Navy in the world. I have a fantastic job that allows me to help others while traveling the world.”