SAN DIEGO – Petty Officer 3rd Class Derek Ipock, a native of Morganton, North Carolina, joined the Navy because of a family connection.
“My dad was in the Navy and so was my grandpa,” said Ipock.
Now, two years, he serves with the Chargers of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 14, working with one of the Navy’s true workhorse aircraft at Naval Air Station North Island, San Diego.
“I feel like I have the best orders in the Navy," said Ipock. "We're here in San Diego and I love the people I work with.”
A 2014 graduate of Robert L. Patton High School, Ipock is a yeoman with HSC 14, a versatile squadron that’s capable of completing a number of important missions for the Navy with the MH-60S “Seahawk” helicopter.
“My job is human resources. I'm responsible for everyone's evaluations and for awards," said Ipock. "I write a lot of Navy correspondence as well. I've been in the office longer than anyone so even though I'm a junior person, I help provide a lot of continuity to leadership.”
Ipock credits success in the Navy to many of the lessons learned in Morganton.
“I was taught to keep in touch with family and keep them first," said Ipock. "Value the friendships that you make and be understanding of others. Be present. You'll enjoy life the most if you live in the moment.”
HSC 14 provides all-weather, combat-ready aircraft and crew to conduct anti-surface warfare, personnel recovery, special warfare support, search and rescue, and logistics for aircraft carrier air wings and navy shore installations. HSC 14 flies the MH-60S “Seahawk” helicopter, a state-of-the-art design that provides the Navy with true versatility, able to complete a number of mission requirements, according to Navy officials.
The MH-60S with its glass cockpit incorporates active matrix LCD displays, used to facilitate pilot and co-pilot vertical and horizontal situation presentations. Another major design of the MH-60S is a "common cockpit," which is shared with the MH-60R. This allows pilots to shift from one aircraft to another with minimal re-training.
“The coolest thing is how diverse the aircraft are," said Ipock. "Our primary mission is search and rescue, but we can do supply or anti-surface warfare.”
Serving in the Navy means Ipock 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.
America is a maritime nation, and 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, Ipock is most proud of just getting through his first deployment.
“Spending eight months on the ship is a lot different way of living,” said Ipock. “We take a lot of things for granted at home. I'm really proud of my time at sea.”
As a member of one of the U.S. Navy’s most relied upon assets, Ipock and other sailors know they are part of a legacy that will last beyond their lifetimes contributing to the Navy the nation needs.
“Serving in the Navy is me doing the most I can to help the country better itself for the future," said Ipock. "We protect the people we serve back home. I take pride in helping my fellow sailors out. I'm proud of the legacy. My dad was in the Navy and my grandpa and I've got other relatives in other branches and when I have kids, I look forward to passing that legacy on.”
William Lovelady is a Senior Chief Mass Communication Specialist with the Navy Office of Community Outreach.