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OAK HARBOR, Wash. – Airman Recruit Seth Sturgell, a native of Bandon, joined the Navy for opportunity.

“What inspired me to join the Navy was the opportunity to travel the world while working for the world’s strongest naval force,” Sturgell said.

Now, nine months after joining the Navy, Sturgell serves with the “World Watchers” of Fleet Air Reconnaissance Squadron One (VQ-1), working with the Navy’s premier intelligence-gathering aircraft at Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, Wash.

“Life at this command is very busy and fast-paced, but we all work together to accomplish the mission,” said Sturgell.

Sturgell, a 2016 graduate of Bandon High School, is an aviation structural mechanic with VQ-1, a state-of-the-art intelligence-gathering squadron flying the EP-3 “Aires,” a variant of the venerable P-3C “Orion.”

“I am responsible for repairing the aircraft’s frame work and hydraulic systems,” said Sturgell.

Sturgell credits success in the Navy to many of the lessons learned in Bandon.

“My hometown taught me the value of hard work and patience," said Sturgell. "We're a very tightly woven community, and we were always taught to have patience and be respectful, which applies to my everyday work environment.”

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Members of VQ-1 conduct reconnaissance as well as intelligence-gathering missions. They deploy around the world to monitor the world’s oceans wherever they are needed.

The EP-3 “Aires” is a land-based, long-range, signals intelligence-gathering aircraft. It is a variant of the P-3C “Orion,” which has been in operation since the 1960s. They are still in service and performing missions all over the world.

Serving in the Navy means Sturgell is part of a 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.

A key element of the Navy the nation needs is tied to the fact that America is a maritime nation, 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.

“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.”

Though there are many ways for sailors to earn distinction in their command, community, and career, Sturgell is most proud of being selected to serve as an aviation maintenance school class leader in Pensacola, Fla.

“To receive the privilege of serving as a class leader took determination to take charge of my peers and long nights full of studying,” said Sturgell.

As a member of one of the U.S. Navy’s most relied upon assets, Sturgell and other sailors know they are part of a legacy that will last beyond their lifetimes contributing to the Navy the nation needs.

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