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It's not a bad bargain, according to Navy Petty Officer 2nd First Class Austin Zeschin, from Platteville: He enlisted in the U.S. Navy and now he gets to defend his country and see the world.
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"My proudest Navy accomplishment is advancing in rank to petty officer second class fairly quickly," Zeschin said. "I'm also proud of my ability to travel and see the world — specifically Spain."
Zeschin is part of a mission called "Take Charge and Move Out". It's key the nation's nuclear deterrence mission at Strategic Communications Wing One, according to Navy officials. It provides airborne communication links to nuclear missile units for the U.S. Strategic Command and transmits emergency action messages.
"The Navy contributes to the National Defense Strategy by assisting our allies and defending against our adversaries," Zeschin said.
The commander-in-chief issues orders to members of the military who operate nuclear weapons aboard submarines, aircraft or in land-based missile silos. Sailors aboard TACAMO E-6 Mercury aircraft provide the one-of-a-kind and most-survivable communication needed for this critical mission.
Zeschin graduated from Mead High School in 2018 and said he relies on the skills he picked up there, especially the strong work ethic that he brings to his job in the Navy.
"Your work ethic is everything. If you're not willing to work hard you won't have anything," Zeschin said.
Zeschin said he joined the Navy four years ago to take advantage of the military's financial security and opportunities. He works as a construction mechanic, and his favorite part of the job is the opportunity to learn and work in a wide range of jobs for the Navy.
"I enjoy the flexibility of being able to work with sailors working with other jobs. It will help me when I become a civilian."
Zeschin and his team of men and women of the "Take Charge and Move Out" mission provide the communication links between national decision makers and the nation's nuclear weapons. The name comes from the original order used during the 1961 Cold War. The Navy adopted this order and the acronym TACAMO, making it the command's nickname, according to Navy officials.
It's a continent-spanning command, based out of Tinker Air Force base in Oklahoma in the middle of the country and centrally located to both coasts and the Gulf of Mexico. It can deploy an aircraft quickly, insuring the nation's nuclear deterrence is always sharp and ready to respond.
It's staffed with men and women who are Wing staff, the Center for Naval Aviation Technical Training, and three Fleet Air Reconnaissance Squadrons: The "Ironmen" of VQ 3, the "Shadows" of VQ 4, and the "Roughnecks" of VQ 7, according to Navy officials.
Strategic Communications Wing One, or STRATCOMMWING ONE, employs more than 1,300 active-duty sailors with 100 contractors to provide maintenance, security, operations, administration, training, and logistic support for the Boeing E-6 Mercury aircraft fleet, an airborne command post, and communications relay based on the Boeing 707.
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