Dublin native serves with Navy Strike Fighter Squadron VFA-14
LEMOORE, Calif. – A 2011 Dublin High School graduate is currently serving with the U.S. Navy’s Strike Fighter Squadron Fourteen, also known as the “Tophatters,” at Naval Air Station Lemoore in California.
Petty Officer 2nd Class Harley Winton is a personnel specialist with the squadron, which the Navy designates as VFA-14, and works with the Navy’s most lethal and versatile strike fighter aircraft, the F/A-18E Super Hornet.
“I manage the administration and pay for personnel at the squadron,” said Winton.
The Super Hornet takes off from and lands on Navy aircraft carriers and is capable of conducting air-to-air combat as well as air-to-surface combat. It is approximately 61 feet long, has a max loaded weight of 66,000 lbs., and a max speed of 1,190 miles per hour.
Operating from the sea aboard aircraft carriers, the Super Hornet gives the Navy the power to protect America’s interests anywhere, at any time. The versatile jet has the ability to destroy targets located hundreds of miles inland, without the need to get another country’s permission to operate within its borders.
“I like the camaraderie that VFA-14 has being a small command,” said Winton.
Winton said he is proud of the work he is doing as part of the squadron’s 217-member team, helping to protect America on the world’s oceans.
“A squadron would be nothing without its people and I take care of the people,” said Winton.
Sailors’ jobs are highly varied in VFA-14. Approximately 24 officers and 193 enlisted men and women make up and keep all parts of the squadron running smoothly — this includes everything from maintaining aircraft airframes and engines, to processing paperwork, handling weaponry, and flying the aircraft.
“VFA-14 is made up of a group of hardworking and skilled individuals whom work exceptionally well together,” said Cmdr. Tommy Locke, VFA-14’s commanding officer. “Being a part of a squadron with as much history as VFA-14 instills a lot of pride and honor in our team and in the work we do. Everyone knows their job and what is expected of them to complete our mission.”
The Tophatters are the Navy’s oldest active squadron, having formed in 1919. Since the squadron’s inception they have flown 23 different types of aircraft, changed designations 14 times, and operated from 20 different aircraft carriers.
Winton was recently named the Blue Jacket of the Year for VFA-14. He received that award, as well as being promoted from Airman Recruit to Petty Officer 2nd Class within 3 years, for his exceptional job performance, professionalism, military bearing, leadership and personal appearance.
“I enjoy the opportunities the Navy has given me,” said Winton. “From riding on an F/A-18E Super Hornet to being able to get promoted and accelerate my career in such a short period.”