TINKER AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. - A Noxen, Pennsylvania, native is serving in the U.S. Navy as part of the nation’s nuclear deterrence mission at Strategic Communications Wing One (STRATCOMMWING ONE). Its TACAMO ("Take Charge and Move Out") mission provides airborne communication links to nuclear missile units of U.S. Strategic Command.
|Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class|
Petty Officer 3rd Class Josh Kocher, a 2019 Lake Lehman High School graduate, joined the Navy three years ago.
“I joined the Navy to do something better with my life,” said Kocher. "Growing up in a small town, jobs were hard to come by. I wanted to experience the world, so I joined the Navy."
Kocher uses skills and values similar to those found in Noxen to succeed in the Navy.
“My hometown taught me that hard work pays off,” said Kocher. "I learned the importance of putting your best foot forward and taking pride in your work and in the results."
The Navy's presence aboard an Air Force base in the middle of America may seem like an odd location given its distance from any ocean; however, the central location allows for the deployment of aircraft to both coasts and the Gulf of Mexico on a moment’s notice. This quick response is key to the success of the nuclear deterrence mission.
The Navy command consists of a Wing staff, the Center for Naval Aviation Technical Training, and three Fleet Air Reconnaissance Squadrons: The "Ironmen" of VQ 3, the "Shadows" of VQ 4 and the “Roughnecks” of VQ 7.
Kocher serves as a yeoman with VQ 4.
“I love to learn, especially when it comes to computers and with customer service skills,” said Kocher. "I’m always learning new things at my job. I also like working with others and helping them."
STRATCOMMWING One employs more than 1,300 active-duty sailors and 100 contractors to provide maintenance, security, operations, administration, training and logistic support for the Boeing E-6 Mercury aircraft fleet, an airborne command post and communications relay based on the Boeing 707.
Their mission stems from the original 1961 Cold War order known as ‘Take Charge and Move Out!’ Adapted as TACAMO and now the command’s nickname, the men and women of TACAMO continue to provide a survivable communication link between national decision makers and the nation’s nuclear weapons.
The commander-in-chief issues orders to members of the military who operate nuclear weapons aboard submarines, aircraft or in land-based missile silos. Sailors aboard TACAMO E-6 Mercury aircraft provide the one-of-a-kind and most-survivable communication needed for this critical mission.
With more than 90 percent of all trade traveling by sea, and 95 percent of the world’s international phone and internet traffic carried through fiber optic cables lying on the ocean floor, Navy officials continue to emphasize that the prosperity and security of the United States is directly linked to a strong and ready Navy.
Serving in the Navy means Kocher is part of a team 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.
“The Navy is very successful in maintaining security around the world,” said Kocher. "We help to keep our freedoms and democracy and help our allies."
Kocher and the sailors they serve with have many opportunities to achieve accomplishments during their military service.
“My proudest accomplishment was going to Japan last year as part of an individual augmentee supporting a multinational mission,” said Kocher. “Working with many different people from the several branches of the military was exceptional. I received a Joint Service Achievement Medal during my tour to Japan.”
As Kocher and other sailors continue to perform missions, they take pride in serving their country in the United States Navy.
“It is an honor to be part of the group that defends our democracy and freedoms we enjoy,” added Kocher. "I appreciate those who thank me for my service. It’s my pleasure to be in the Navy. I am the first in my family to join the military and I know my service brings pride to them."