Friday, July 14, 2023

Billings native serves with U.S. Navy Patrol Squadron supporting maritime missions around the globe

By Rick Burke, Navy Office of Community Outreach

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Petty Officer 2nd Class Kolten Wiechman, a native of Billings, Montana, serves with Patrol and Reconnaissance Squadron (VP) 45 based out of Jacksonville, Florida. The squadron’s primary mission is to undertake maritime patrol, anti-submarine warfare, and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions.
Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Bryan Niegel,
Navy Office of Community Outreach

Wiechman, a 2017 graduate of Skyview High School, joined the Navy over five years ago.

“I joined the Navy to be a part of something bigger than myself said,” Wiechman. “I also wanted to follow in the footsteps of my grandfather, Donald Day, who previously served in the Navy during Vietnam.”

Today, Wiechman relies upon skills and values similar to those found in Billings to succeed in the military.

“Growing up in Montana, a good work ethic was instilled in me by my parents and this helped me succeed both professionally and personally,” said Wiechman.

VP 45 flies the U.S. Navy’s P-8A Poseidon multi-mission maritime aircraft. Designed to secure the U.S. Navy’s future in long-range maritime patrol capability, the P-8A has transformed how the Navy’s maritime patrol and reconnaissance force will man, train, operate and deploy, according to Navy officials. While the aircraft is also equipped with high-quality weapon systems, it also has an open architecture to allow for expansion. P-8A deploy around the globe to monitor the world’s oceans wherever they are needed.

This year commemorates 50 years of women flying in the U.S. Navy. In 1973, the first eight women began flight school in Pensacola; one year later six of them, known as "The First Six," earned their “Wings of Gold.” Over the past 50 years, the Navy has expanded its roles for women to lead and serve globally and today our women aviators project power from the sea in every type of Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard aircraft. Our Nation and our Navy is stronger because of their service.

With 90 percent of global commerce traveling by sea and access to the internet relying on the security of undersea fiber optic cables, Navy officials continue to emphasize that the prosperity of the United States is directly linked to trained sailors and a strong Navy.

"Our mission remains timeless - to provide our fellow citizens with nothing less than the very best Navy: fully combat ready at all times, focused on warfighting excellence, and committed to superior leadership at every single level," said Adm. Mike Gilday, Chief of Naval Operations. "This is our calling. And I cannot imagine a calling more worthy."

Serving in the Navy means Wiechman is part of a team that is taking on new importance in America’s focus on strengthening alliances, modernizing capabilities, increasing capacities and maintaining military readiness in support of the National Defense Strategy.

“The Navy is a worldwide force that supports national defense by having versatile sailors that can be deployed to either land, air and sea at a moment’s notice,” said Wiechman.

Wiechman and the sailors they serve with have many opportunities to achieve accomplishments during their military service.

“My proudest accomplishment is getting my Naval Aircrewman Wings,” said Wiechman. “It was three years of training in the aviation pipeline, and my hard work ethic and dedication led me to accomplish this feat and proudly call myself a naval aviator.”

As Wiechman and other sailors continue to train and perform missions, they take pride in serving their country in the United States Navy.

“Serving in the Navy gives me a sense of pride knowing that I am defending my friends, family and country,” said Wiechman.

Wiechman is grateful to others for helping make a Navy career possible.

“I would like to thank my parents for the love and support they provided me with my journey into the Navy,” added Wiechman.