Myrtle Beach native serves with Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron 7

Myrtle Beach native serves with Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron 7 (Image 1)

 A 2012 Provost Academy graduate and Myrtle Beach, S.C., native is serving with a U.S. Navy helicopter squadron that flies the Navy’s newest and most technologically-advanced helicopter, the MH-60R Sea Hawk.

Airman James Cotterman is an aviation electrician with the “Raptors” of Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron 71, based out of San Diego.

“It’s all very interesting,” said Cotterman. “I just got out of school and this is my first command. I’m impresed with the number of electronic systems the aircraft operates.”

The squadron deploys its helicopters and personnel around the world aboard a variety of Navy ships, including frigates, destroyers, cruisers and aircraft carriers.

While aboard ships at sea, the squadron conducts a variety of missions.

“Our missions aboard ships include tracking and hunting enemy submarines, combatting enemy surface ships, search and rescue, communications relay, and ferrying supplies, cargo and personnel,” said Lt. Reagan Lauritzen, Commander, Naval Air Force U.S. Pacific Fleet spokesperson.

As an aviation electrician, Cotterman is responsible for the electronic systems on aircraft and troubleshooting the wires to figure out what is wrong when something needs to be replaced.

“My job is exciting,” said Cotterman. “Being able to come to work every day and learn something new is great.”

The MH-60R Sea Hawk is over 60 feet long, and can weigh up to 23,500 lbs. It is replacing the Navy’s older helicopters because of its greater versatility and more advanced weapon systems.

“The MH-60R features more sophisticated electronics, like a new low-frequency sonar and an advanced radar system,” said Lauritzen. “The Seahawk can also launch torpedoes, fire Hellfire missiles and laser guided rockets, and carry crew served weapons”

Cotterman said he is proud to be a part of the 300-member squadron that is ready to defend America at all times.

“I like the changes that the Navy has made in me, like giving me a boost of confidence,” said Cotterman. “Bootcamp was difficult but it taught me to be a leader and I started to come into my own.”

Being a sailor assigned to a helicopter squadron and in a deployable status means spending a lot of time away from friends and family, but serving his country makes it worth it for Cotterman.

“Being on an aircraft carrier in preparation for deployment was a completely new experience,” said Cotterman. “We worked hard every day. It was very rewarding.”

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