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Bedford Native Keeps The Navy's Newest, Most Advanced Helicopters Flying
Updated September 1, 2017 7:52 AM | Filed under: Interest
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A 1998 Indiana University graduate and Bedford native Petty Officer 1st Class Brian Mason is serving with a U.S. Navy helicopter squadron that flies the Navy's newest and most technologically-advanced helicopter. Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Robert Zahn

(MAYPORT, Fla.) - A 1998 Indiana University graduate and Bedford, Indiana native is serving with a U.S. Navy helicopter squadron that flies the Navy's newest and most technologically-advanced helicopter.

Lt. Wesley Holzapfel, of the Navy Office of Community Outreach reports, Petty Officer 1st Class Brian Mason is an aviation electronics technician with the "Grandmasters" of Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 46, a Mayport, Florida based squadron that operates the Navy's next generation submarine hunter and Anti-Surface Warfare helicopter, the MH-60R Seahawk. Each helicopter is nearly 65 feet long, may weigh up to 23,500 lbs. (max gross) and can travel over 120 miles per hour for nearly 320 miles on a tank of gas.

As an aviation electronics technician, Mason is responsible for fixing avionics - communications systems, mission systems, armament systems, navigation systems - basically all the geek stuff.

"I have a huge family history of serving in the Navy," said Mason. "It was a natural fit for me. My grandfather served in World War II and he worked on a weapons system that was the predecessor to the weapons system that my dad worked on. They were both on ships, but I chose to work on aircraft - even over the opportunity to serve as a 'nuke' on a submarine."

According to Navy officials, the MH-60R is the most capable multi-mission helicopter available in the world today. It is used for a variety of missions, including hunting and tracking enemy submarines, attacking enemy ships, search and rescue, drug interdiction, delivering supplies and supporting the Navy's special operations forces.

It is replacing the Navy's older helicopters because of its greater versatility and more advanced weapon systems.

Mason said they are proud to be part of a warfighting team that readily defends America at all times.

"I'm proud of every award and honor that I've gotten," said Mason. "I was awarded with Sailor of the Year when I served with Helicopter Maritime Strike Wing Atlantic, and I was extremely proud to earn that."

Sailors' jobs are highly varied within the squadron. Approximately 297 Navy men and women are assigned and keep all parts of the squadron running smoothly. This includes everything from maintaining helicopter airframes and engines, to processing paperwork, handling weapons and flying the aircraft.

Serving in the Navy, Mason is learning about being a more respectable leader, Sailor and person through handling numerous responsibilities.

"It's a privilege to serve," said Mason. "There's a fairly arduous screening process to get in, but it's a privilege."

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