KINGSVILLE, Texas - A McMinnville native is serving in the U.S. Marine Corps alongside naval aviators who learn the skills they need to fly missions around the world.
1st. Lt. Steven Richardson, a 2007 Warren County High School graduate and 2018 graduate of Middle Tennessee State University, joined the Marine Corps 11 years ago.
“I joined the Marine Corps for the opportunity to protect, serve and to challenge myself to become better every day,” said Richardson. “I also wanted to provide a positive influence as a contributing member of society for my three children to look up to.”
Skills and values learned in the Marines are similar to those found in McMinnville.
“Growing up in a smaller town taught me the importance of community and how the support of others around you can help you attain your goals,” said Richardson. “My family and my achievements would not be possible without the support system that our hometown has placed around us.”
Richardson serves as a student pilot with Training Squadron 22, a strike jet training squadron, located at Naval Air Station Kingsville, Texas.
“I enjoy working in an environment where everyone puts their minds together and learns from one another’s mistakes,” said Richardson. “This makes us better aviators, so we can accomplish the missions we are called upon to conduct.”
The air training program focuses on the increased complexity of today’s aircraft. After successfully completing the rigorous program, naval aviators earn their coveted “Wings of Gold.”
After graduation, pilots continue their training to learn how to fly a specific aircraft, such as the F/A-18 Super Hornet fighter attack jet, the F-35 Lightning strike fighter jet or the SH-60 Seahawk helicopter. These aircraft take off from and land on Navy aircraft carriers at sea.
Navy aircraft carriers are designed for a 50-year service life. When the air wing is embarked, the ship carries more than 70 attack fighter jets, helicopters and other aircraft, all of which take off from and land aboard the carrier at sea. With more than 5,000 sailors serving aboard, the aircraft carrier is a self-contained mobile airport.
Aircraft carriers are often the first response to a global crisis because of their ability to operate freely in international waters anywhere on the world’s oceans.
Since USS Langley’s commissioning 100 years ago, the nation’s aircraft carriers and embarked carrier air wings have projected power, sustained sea control, bolstered deterrence, provided humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, and maintained enduring commitments worldwide.
“The aircraft carrier is our U.S. Navy’s centerpiece, our flagship, and a constant reminder to the rest of the world of our enduring maritime presence and influence,” said Rear Adm. James P. Downey, USN, Program Executive Officer (PEO) Aircraft Carriers. “These ships touch every part of our Navy’s mission to project power, ensure sea control, and deter our adversaries.”
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 ready sailors and a strong Navy.
Serving in the Department of Defense means Richardson 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 and Marine Corps are both a significant part of the national defense,” said Richardson. “Our constant presence around the globe allows us the ability to react quickly to crises that may affect us or our allies.”
Richardson has many opportunities to achieve accomplishments during military service.
“My greatest accomplishment in the Marine Corps is continuing to have a successful family that becomes stronger every day,” said Richardson. “We deal with a life that carries many more external stressors than most families deal with.”
Richardson takes pride in serving the country in the Marine Corps.
“I’m blessed to be able to serve in the Marine Corps,” said Richardson. “I am able to pursue this life of being a fighter jet pilot. Serving is an opportunity to be a contributing member of the United States at the highest level.”
Richardson is grateful to loved ones and others in helping make a Marine Corps career possible.
“There have been countless leaders in the military who have helped and inspired me along this journey, but I can’t thank anyone more than my wife,” added Richardson. “My wife and the support she has provided over the past 12 years is irreplaceable. My achievements, are her achievements.”