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Delsea Regional Graduate Serves with U.S. Navy Helicopter Squadron

by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Anna-Liesa Hussey, Navy Office of Community Outreach
Photography by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Jason Waite, Navy Office of Community Outreach

Petty Officer 1st Class Cecelia Trace, a native of Malaga, serves with Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 37, operating out of Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. The squadron’s primary mission is to conduct sea control operations in open-ocean and coastal environments. This includes hunting for submarines, searching for surface targets over the horizon and conducting search and rescue operations.

Trace, a 2011 Delsea Regional High School graduate, joined the Navy nine and a half years ago.

“The Navy has a rich history and is saturated in tradition,” said Trace. “Women were allowed to enlist as early as 1917 into the Navy. Because they performed the same jobs as men, they were offered equal pay which was not common at the time. Traveling has also inspired me to join. As of now, I have been to 10 different countries, as well as having the opportunity to live in Japan for three years.”

Skills and values learned in the Navy are similar to those found in Malaga.

“As a member of Gloucester County 4-H and JROTC, I learned how to be a leader, how to give guidance and how to work as a team,” said Trace.

Today, Trace serves with the helicopter squadron that flies the U.S. Navy’s MH-60R Seahawk helicopters. The MH-60R is a twin-engine helicopter used for anti-submarine warfare, search and rescue, drug interdiction, anti-ship warfare, cargo lift, and special operations.

This year commemorates 50 years of women flying in the U.S. Navy. In 1973, the first eight women began flight school in Pensacola; one year later six of them, known as “The First Six,” earned their “Wings of Gold.” Over the past 50 years, the Navy has expanded its roles for women to lead and serve globally and today our women aviators project power from the sea in every type of Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard aircraft. Our Nation and our Navy is stronger because of their service.

With 90 percent of global commerce traveling by sea and access to the internet relying on the security of undersea fiber optic cables, Navy officials continue to emphasize that the prosperity of the United States is directly linked to trained sailors and a strong Navy.

“The Navy protects the fair trade operations that occur throughout the world’s oceans and is the first line of defense if another nation becomes a threat,” said Trace.

Trace has many opportunities during military service.

“The accomplishments I am proudest of are the impacts I have in my fellow sailors’ careers and lives,” said Trace. “Helping my shipmates become qualified and ultimately get promoted, is what I love most about my service. Nothing makes me happier than seeing people get recognized for their hard work and their recognition is my recognition.”

As Trace and other sailors continue to perform missions, they take pride in serving their country in the United States Navy.

“To me, serving in the Navy has become a huge part of who I am,” said Trace. “It has given me my friends, my job, my community and my home. It gives me immense pride, and I am grateful for the endless opportunities it has awarded to me.”

Trace is grateful to others for helping make a Navy career possible.

“I would like to thank my mom and my sisters for always supporting me,” added Trace. “I love them all very much.”