Chief Petty Officer Shantelle Butche, a native of Phoenix, was inspired to join the Navy along with her best friend.
Thirteen years later, Ms. Butche serves with the Scorpions of Helicopter Maritime Squadron 49, working with one of the Navy’s most advanced helicopters at Naval Air Station North Island, San Diego.
“We are busy at this squadron,” Ms. Butche said. “We’re constantly training and maintaining our aircraft so we are in a deployable status, whether it’s training our pilots or training our maintainers. We’re ready to go out to sea and do what we need to do when we deploy.”
Ms. Butche, a 1994 graduate of Paradise Valley High School, is an aviation electrician’s mate with HSM 49, a versatile squadron that’s capable of completing a number of important missions for the Navy with the MH-60R “Seahawk” helicopter.
“I’m responsible for electrical, lighting and flight control systems on the aircraft,” she said. “In my current position I’m a detachment chief, so my job is to oversee sailors and train them, get them their basic qualifications and prepare them for sea-going detachments.”
Ms. Butche credits success in the Navy to many of the lessons learned in Phoenix.
“I learned that family is important and if you take care of family they’ll take care of you,” she said. “The Navy is another family and we truly do have each others’ backs.”
HSM 49’s primary mission is to conduct sea control operations in open-ocean and coastal environments as an expeditionary unit. This includes hunting for submarines, searching for surface targets over the horizon and conducting search and rescue operations.
According to Navy officials, the MH-60R is the Navy’s new primary maritime dominance helicopter. Greatly enhanced over its predecessors, the MH-60R helicopter features a glass cockpit and significant mission system improvements, which give it unmatched capability as an airborne multi-mission naval platform.
As the U.S. Navy’s next generation submarine hunter and anti-surface warfare helicopter, the MH-60R “Romeo” is the cornerstone of the Navy’s Helicopter Concept of Operations.
Anti-submarine warfare and surface warfare are the MH-60R’s primary missions. Secondary missions include search and rescue, medical evacuation, vertical replenishment, naval surface fire support, communications relay, command, control, communications, command and control warfare and non-combat operations.
“It’s unique for the amount of different missions that we are capable of performing related to other aircraft and how quickly we can convert the aircraft into different configurations,” said Ms. Butche.
Serving in the Navy means Ms. Butche is part of a world 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.
A key element of the Navy the nation needs is tied to the fact that America is a maritime nation, and that the nation’s prosperity is tied to the ability to operate freely on the world’s oceans.
Over 70% of the Earth’s surface is covered by water; 80% of the world’s population lives close to a coast; and 90% of all global trade by volume travels by sea.
“Our priorities center on people, capabilities and processes, and will be achieved by our focus on speed, value, results and partnerships,” said Secretary of the Navy Richard V. Spencer. “Readiness, lethality and modernization are the requirements driving these priorities.”
Though there are many ways for sailors to earn distinction in their command, community and career, Ms. Butche is most proud of being promoted to chief.
“It’s probably one of my proudest moments in the Navy,” she said. “There were a lot of people that helped guide me and mentor me and a lot of sailors helped get me there. It was something I always wanted, but without everybody else I never would have made it.”
As a member of one of the U.S. Navy’s most relied upon assets, Ms. Butche and other sailors know they are part of a legacy that will last beyond their lifetimes contributing to the Navy the nation needs.
“Serving in the Navy gives me a sense of pride,” Ms. Butche said.
“It’s a way to give back to everybody else. It’s something I just love doing.”
Editor’s Note: Jerry Jimenez is a mass communication specialist first class in the Navy Office of Community Outreach.