SHUTTLE USS Enterprise (CVN 65) - Thursday, April 21, 2011
C H E C K M A T E !
Thursday, April 21, 2011
Checkmates of VFA-211 are ‘picture perfect’
By MCSN Jared M. King USS Enterprise Public Affairs
USS ENTERPRISE, At sea – With more than 890 sorties under their belts and more than 1,655 flight hours as of April 20, one fighter squadron embarked aboard the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise (CVN 65) says it’s the finest and most uniquely equipped squadron aboard. That’s not just your expected fighter pilot bravado. The “Fighting Checkmates” of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 211 are the only tactical reconnaissance squadron of Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 1, with the unique capability to perform reconnaissance— taking photos and often transmitting them immediately back to the ship to provide a near real-time picture of what’s happening. The squadron is equipped with two shared reconnaissance pods (SHARP), which can be transferred for use on any of the squadron’s 11 F/A-18F Super Hornets. “It’s really awe-inspiring to be within a cockpit which is so small, yet so capable,” said Lt. j.g. Morgan A. Kitchen, a weapons systems officer assigned to the Checkmates. “It’s incredible that something this powerful can seem so small and insignificant in the vastness of the sky.” The Checkmates, one of two squadrons in CVW-1 that flies the F/A-18F, or two-seat Super Hornet, also have five pilots qualified to operate the forward air control (FAC) (airborne) capability only found on this variant of the jet. This
Photo by MCSN Jared M. King
A plane captain signals to pilots of an F/A-18F Super Hornet assigned to the “Checkmates” of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 211 during preparations for flight operations aboard the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise (CVN 65).
capability allows the pilots to integrate with joint tactical air controllers (JTAC) on the ground. The FAC(A) provides an air support connection to ground troops and gives them access to a unique picture on the ground and the ability to control the fire of other aircraft. “Although we have one of the most capable platforms in all of [U.S.] 5th Fleet, none of these aircraft could be employed without the dedicated professionals who work day and night to get the mission done,” said Cmdr. James A. McCall, commanding officer of VFA-211. Seventeen pilots, 15 weapons systems officers, 4 maintenance officers, and 185 enlisted Sailors make up the team that supports 25-35 flight hours per day and 18-20 sorties six days per week.
“Each time we are able to support troops on the ground is a testament to the hard work done by every member of our squadron,” said Lt. j.g. Jocelyn K. Liberg, a weapons systems officer assigned to the Checkmates. “Everyone contributes in different ways, and no one is more important than the other.” The squadron’s maintenance personnel work around the clock to ensure every aircraft is mission-ready at all times. “We always keep in mind that everything goes up, and gravity will take over if something goes wrong,” said VFA-211’s Command Master Chief (AW/SW) Evelyn Scott. “Mistakes are unacceptable in this organization, and time is critical.” Liberg said there are difficulties and successes in every team, but the way
the Checkmates maintain a positive balance between both is what sets them apart from the rest. “I couldn’t be more proud to lead such a cohesive set of warriors dedicated to a singular goal,” said McCall. “Our squadron is rich in the tradition of excellence, and this group of Checkmates is upholding that tradition.” This squadron of professional aviators and support Sailors are unique and uniquely capable aboard Enterprise. The fact that they are proud of what they do is evident in the way they talk about their team. Wearing their patented red and white checkered flight suits, and flying the most sophisticated fighter jets aboard, what at first seems like bravado is quickly understood as bravery.
Sailors of the Day
Boatswain’s Mate Seaman
Thursday, April 21, 2011
Aviation Electronics Technician 3rd Class
Brandon J. Dawson - Brooklyn, New York
Stefan M. Gribcheck - Solon, Ohio
BMSN Dawson, assigned to Deck department’s 1st division, joined the Navy three years ago for its educational benefits and career options. To Dawson, the most rewarding aspects of his job are the appreciation he receives from other Sailors around the ship and the hands-on management skills gained by performing his daily tasks. Dawson aspires to one day earn a bachelor of science degree and become a naval aviator. During his free time, Dawson enjoys hanging out with his friends.
AT3 Gribcheck, an avionics maintenance technician assigned to the “Checkmates” of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 211, joined the Navy three years ago to see the world. To Gribcheck, the most rewarding aspect of his job is “learning new things about my aircraft every day.” Gribcheck is working hard to finish his EAWS qualification and make 2nd class petty officer. He also aspires to earn a college degree and become a naval officer in the future. During his spare time, Gribcheck enjoys hanging out with friends and living life to the fullest.
Photos by MCSN Jared M. King
Down 1 Ayatollahs’ land 2 Funnel shape 3 Blues singer James 4 Himalayan guides 5 They’re on the move 6 Raggedy ___ 7 Bunny’s tail 8 Celestial radio source 9 Orchestra section 10 Noble 11 Certain apartments 12 Regards 15 Display stands 18 Look like Tom 22 Actress Zellweger 24 Eliot Ness, e.g. 26 Séance sounds 27 Corporate hotshot 28 Camels etc. 30 Ropemaking fiber 32 Occult doctrine 34 Central African river 35 Former partners 37 Alma ___ 38 Preschoolers 41 Pharaoh in “The Ten Commandments” 43 Ireland’s patron saint 45 Be on the brink 46 Downhill runner 47 Nickname for Alexander 49 Set, as a price 50 Pianist Hines 51 Desiccated 53 Bamako is its capital 54 Burden 55 Beaks 58 ___ mode
Across 1 Frozen treats 5 Shocked response 9 Bargain time 13 “Zuckerman Unbound” author 14 At the right time 16 Home of Aeneas 17 Third last syllable
19 Abounding 20 Less remote 21 Russian royalists 23 Nuisance 25 Operatives 26 News-show summary 29 Napoleonic victory site 31 Allies’ opponents
32 Driver’s compartment 33 Save 36 Cribbage marker 37 Sea cow 39 King in Rome 40 Egyptian sacred beetle 42 Trig. function 43 Not very bright
44 Rapper’s sound 46 Fills to the gills 47 Mother of Dionysus 48 Dash in the kitchen? 50 Diners 52 Improving speech 56 Behaves 57 Flambé dish
59 First president of South Korea 60 Oberon or Haggard 61 Cudgel 62 Lad’s love 63 Peruse 64 Buss