Bridgeport native keeps Navy’s newest, most advanced aircraft flying

By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Pat Migliaccio, Navy Office of Community Outreach

A 2004 Bassick High School graduate and Bridgeport, Connecticut native is serving with a U.S. Navy electronic attack squadron that flies the Navy’s newest and most technologically-advanced aircraft, the EA-18G Growler.

Airman Jose Maldonado is an aviation structural mechanic with the “Gray Wolves” of Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) 142, one of 14 Navy electronic attack squadrons based in Whidbey Island, Washington.

As an aviation structural mechanic, Maldonado is responsible for the structural repair of jet aircraft.

“The Growler is a beautiful jet to fix,” said Maldonado.

Taking off from and landing on Navy aircraft carriers as well as supporting expeditionary land-based operations around the world, the Growlers and their crews engage in electronic warfare, one of the most important components of modern air combat, according to Navy sources.  The electronic warfare mission involves jamming enemy radar and communications systems in order to render air defenses ineffective.

To accomplish these tasks, the Growler has a sophisticated electronic warfare suite, complete with advanced receivers, jamming pods and satellite communications.

“The Growler is a major improvement from the Prowler because the technology is so much more advanced,” said Maldonado.

As a member of one of the U.S. Navy’s squadrons with the newest aircraft platforms, Maldonado said he and other  VAQ-142 sailors are proud to be part of a warfighting team that readily defends America at all times.

“In this squadron you feel the love,” said Maldonado. “Some days are hard days but we always work hard and overcome it.”

Sailors’ jobs are highly varied at VAQ-142, according to Navy officials. Approximately 65 officers, 400 enlisted men and women, and 110 civilian contractors make up and keep all parts of the squadron running smoothly — this includes everything from maintaining airframes and engines, to processing paperwork, handling weaponry, and flying the aircraft.

“Every day I feel an extraordinary amount of pride to serve alongside our great nation’s most inspiring men and women,” said Capt. Scott Farr, Commander, Electronic Attack Wing, U.S. Pacific Fleet. “Our team is filled with hardworking and highly qualified professionals who hold uncommon levels of responsibility and accountability in support of our mission: to maintain, fly, and fight the Growler around the world. Their work ethic, commitment, enthusiasm, and esprit de corps are second to none!”

Serving in the Navy, Maldonado is learning about being a more responsible leader, sailor and citizen through handling numerous responsibilities.

“The Navy has given me discipline, patience and the perseverance to overcome any problem,” said Maldonado.

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