TINKER AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. – A Joplin, Missouri, 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.

Airman Deomenick Blanchette, a 2018 McAuley Catholic High School graduate, joined the Navy one year ago.

“I joined the Navy because I tried the whole college thing and it wasn’t working out,” said Blanchette. “I wanted to do something different. I had family that had been in the military before and after hearing about their experiences and speaking with a recruiter, I decided the Navy was the right route for me.”

Blanchette uses skills and values similar to those found in Joplin to succeed in the Navy.

“I want to give a shout out to my family back home,” said Blanchette. “Thank you for raising me how you did. You raised me to be the best person I could be and gave me more than I could ever ask for. You raised me to be respectful. Be respectful to others and they will respect you back. You also taught me to give my all. That definitely helped me in the Navy during boot camp and during my training.”

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.

Blanchette serves as a naval aircrewman with VQ 7.

“A small percentage of people in the Navy have my job,” said Blanchette. “We do a lot of cool stuff and have a very small but mighty community. It’s awesome getting to put on a flight suit and fly on the planes as part of that community.”

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 Blanchette 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 contributes to the National Defense Strategy by being a show of force,” said Blanchette. “We protect through sea, land and air, and can be anywhere at any time in a moment’s notice. We also protect our allies while deterring our adversaries, which is extremely important to our nation’s security.”

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

“My proudest accomplishment in the Navy is how fast I’ve advanced in rank,” said Blanchette. “I’m also proud to have finished my schooling and to be able to put on my flight suit.”

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

“To me, serving in the Navy means carrying on a family tradition,” added Blanchette. “My uncle was a Marine. I’ve had great-grandparents in the Navy. I get to show my patriotism to the country while carrying on a legacy of service. There is only a small percentage of people who join and I’m proud to be one of them.”