ANDERSEN AIR FORCE BASE, Guam — A 2012 Hudson High School graduate and Hudson native is serving in the U.S. Navy with Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 25 on the island of Guam.
Lt. j.g. Cullen Hanks is a pilot serving with HSC 25, known as the “Island Knights,” a versatile squadron that’s capable of completing a number of missions for the Navy with the MH-60S “Seahawk” helicopter.
A pilot is responsible for flying and operating the helicopter.
Hanks credits success in the Navy to many of the lessons learned in Hudson.
“Growing up in a small town taught me to be humble and appreciate the little things in life,” Hanks said. “This helped me to never forget where I’m from, despite all of the awesome experiences and distinguished career I’ve been blessed to participate in. I still consider Hudson my home and I always enjoy returning to visit.”
HSC-25 is the first and only forward-deployed vertical replenishment squadron in the Navy and is tasked with supporting Seventh Fleet units in the Western Pacific, Indian Ocean, North Arabian Sea and Persian Gulf. To provide this support, HSC-25 embarks two-aircraft detachments aboard Military Sealift Command vessels that provide transportation of equipment, fuel, supplies and ammunition to sustain U.S. forces worldwide.
They are the only Navy squadron based at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam.
In addition to vertical replenishment, HSC-25 provides 24-hour search-and-rescue/medical evacuation services for Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands. Averaging more than 30 rescues and 70 medevacs per year, HSC-25 also conducts airborne firefighting using externally-carried buckets, vertical onboard delivery, drone and torpedo recovery, special operations airborne support, and fleet logistics support for all military activities in the Guam area, including the maritime prepositioned ships operating in the local area.
“Being forward deployed, this command is able to execute some missions that other commands merely train for, namely search and rescue,” Hanks said.
According to officials at the U.S. Navy’s Pacific Fleet headquarters in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, the ships, submarines, aircraft and Navy personnel forward-deployed to Guam are part of the world’s largest fleet command and serve in a region critical to U.S. national security.
The U.S. Pacific Fleet encompasses 100 million square miles, nearly half the Earth’s surface, from Antarctica to the Arctic Circle and from the West Coast of the United States into the Indian Ocean. All told, there are more than 200 ships and submarines, nearly 1,200 aircraft, and more than 130,000 uniformed and civilian personnel serving in the Pacific.
Serving in the Navy means Hanks 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, Hanks is most proud earning his wings, which designates him as a Navy pilot.
“It took four years at the Naval Academy and another two and a half years in flight school for me to earn that designation,” said Hanks. “I’m so thankful for my family and friends who supported me along the way.”
As a member of one of the U.S. Navy’s most relied upon assets, Hanks and other sailors know they are part of a legacy that will last beyond their lifetimes, one that will provide a critical component of the Navy the nation needs.
“I’m extremely proud of serving in the Navy,” added Hanks. “The support our service members receive is simply incredible, and I often feel I don’t deserve the level of admiration directed to me. The Navy has introduced me to amazing people and incredible experiences, and I perpetually feel blessed to be part of this amazing community.”