LEMOORE, Calif.- A 1999 Katella High School graduate and Anaheim, California, native is currently serving with a U.S. Navy strike fighter squadron, which flies one of the world’s most advanced warplanes.
Petty Officer 1st Class Elizabeth NuNez-Orona is an aviation ordnanceman with the Kestrels of VFA 137, which operates out of Naval Air Station Lemoore. A Navy aviation ordnanceman is responsible for maintaining the weapons systems on the aircraft and uploading and downloading ordnance on the aircraft.
“Growing up I was taught that you have to hustle,” NuNez-Orona said. “You have to work for what you want, and nothing is free. It’s the same in the Navy.”
Members of VFA 137 work with the F/A 18 Super Hornet, one of the most advanced aircraft in the world. The Super Hornet takes off from and lands on Navy aircraft carriers at sea and is capable of conducting air-to-air combat as well as striking targets on land. It is approximately 61 feet long, has a loaded weight of 51,000 lbs., and a max speed of 1,190 miles per hour.
Operating from 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.
“Strike Fighter Wing, U. S. Pacific Fleet, based at Naval Air Station Lemoore, California, is the heart of Naval Aviation,” said Capt. James S. Bates, Deputy Commodore, Strike Fighter Wing, U.S. Pacific. “The sailors assigned to SFWP always exceed expectations and produce amazing results through team work and dedication to their department, squadron, the U.S. Navy and their family. Naval Aviation is a challenging occupation, but our sailors work day in and day out to provide fully mission capable aircraft and fully qualified aircrew to ensure leadership is able to answer national level tasking. I am humbled to be able to lead the sailors of SFWP and I am proud to call Lemoore my home.”
As a member of one of the U.S. Navy’s most relied-upon assets, NuNez-Orona and other sailors know they are part of a legacy that will last beyond their lifetimes providing the Navy the nation needs.
“I am looking forward to mentoring the sailors within this command,” said NuNez-Orona. “I retire in a year, so I want to make sure I leave something good behind.”
NuNez-Orona is proud of receiving a Volunteer Service Medal for cleaning up Kings County and helping youth ministries in the Lemoore area.
“Serving in the Navy means preserving our rights and freedoms,” NuNez-Orona said. “It means giving back to a country that gave my parents a good opportunity when they came here from Mexico.”