Petty Officer 2nd Class Robert O’Dwyer credits a teacher at Steinert High School for influencing his decision to join the Navy. (Photo by Senior Chief Petty Officer Gary Ward.)

A 2006 Steinert High School graduate is serving in the U.S. Navy as part of the nation’s nuclear deterrence mission at Strategic Communications Wing ONE.

Petty Officer 2nd Class Robert O’Dwyer credits a high school teacher for influencing his decision to join the service.

“My automotive teacher, David Nash, during high school kept us motivated and made working on engines fun,” said O’Dwyer. “He was the best mentor I’ve ever had and he certainly influenced my decision to be a mechanic.”

O’Dwyer now is an aviation machinist’s mate assigned to Tinker Air Force Base in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, where the Navy command is headquartered. A Navy aviation machinist’s mate is a jet engine mechanic and maintains the electronic communication suite on the E6 Mercury aircraft.

His mission stems from the original 1961 Cold War order known as Take Charge and Move Out! Adapted as TACAMO and now the command’s nickname, today, the men and women of TACAMO continue to provide a survivable communication link between national decision makers and the nation’s nuclear weapons.

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 communication needed for the mission.

The command consists of three squadrons and a wing staff that employs more than 1,200 active-duty sailors who provide maintenance, security, operations, administration, training and logistic support for the TACAMO aircraft fleet.

The Navy’s presence at an Air Force base in the middle of America may seem like an odd location given its distance from any ocean; however, the central location allows for the deployment of aircraft to both coasts and the Gulf of Mexico on a moment’s notice. This quick response is key to the success of the nuclear deterrence mission, the Navy said.

“In light of current events, deterrence is our greatest offense,” O’Dwyer said. “Americans should rest easy knowing that their Navy is well-trained, motivated, knowledgable and experienced to respond at a moment’s notice.”

Sailors serving from America’s heartland take pride in the vital mission they support as well as the nuclear deterrence they help provide.

“I am proud of being an American,” said O’Dwyer. “I was in middle school when 9/11 happened and that overwhelming feeling of patriotism led me down my path in the Navy.”