Petty Officer 2nd Class Karla Molina, a native of Yuma, Arizona, wanted to see the world.
“The biggest thing that attracted me to the military was the ability to travel,” said Molina. “As a young person, that was very interesting and important to me.”
Now, eight years later, Molina serves with the Magicians of Helicopter Maritime Squadron (HSM) 35, working with one of the Navy’s most advanced helicopters at Naval Air Station North Island, San Diego.
“I’m fairly new in this squadron, but I really enjoy the life here,” said Molina. “The operational rotation of our helicopters means we get to spend time both at sea and on shore.”
Molina, a 2010 graduate of Cibola High School, is an aviation ordnanceman with HSM 35, a versatile squadron that’s capable of completing a number of important missions for the Navy with the MH-60R “Seahawk” helicopter.
“We deal with a lot of weapons systems here,” said Molina. “It’s a big responsibility because if we aren’t doing what we’re supposed to do with maintenance of these systems, something could go wrong that could really hurt someone.”
Molina credits success in the Navy to many of the lessons learned in Yuma.
“The thing that always stood out to me is the value of not being mediocre,” said Molina. “Whatever I’m doing, I’m always going to push myself to do it the best that I can, and I think that’s important in the Navy.”
HSM 35’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.
According to Navy officials, the MH-60R is the Navy’s new primary maritime dominance helicopter. 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.
“The MH-60R has a very diverse weapons loadout for us,” said Molina. “We’re really able to pack it full of whatever it needs for whatever mission it’s completing.”
Serving in the Navy means Molina 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, Molina is most proud of buying a house and finishing her associate’s degree.
“The Navy has given me a lot of opportunities both in my career and in my education,” said Molina. “I was the first in my family to join the military, and it’s great to be able to lead by example and have others follow in my footsteps.”
As a member of one of the U.S. Navy’s most relied upon assets, Molina and other sailors know they are part of a legacy that will last beyond their lifetimes contributing to the Navy the nation needs.
“I’m very proud to be able to serve in the Navy,” said Molina. “It gives me the chance to give back to my country. At the end of the day it’s rewarding, we’re out here completing our mission so people back home can be safe, and it means when I’m done, I can be happy with the work I have done.”