2018-03-13 / Front Page

Sea Hawk Navy pilot living out her dream

Senior Staff Writer

SANFORD — She earned her wings in January 2016, and she flies MH-60S Sea Hawk helicopters for the U.S Navy. 

Lt. j.g. Sarah Alexandre, who graduated from Sanford High School in 2010, and from the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland in 2014, is currently deployed in the South China Sea. 

She’s living her dream — one she’d had for a long time.

“Flying was just something that I always wanted to do since I was a little girl,” she said.

And so, she is. She worked toward that goal, and has achieved it.

Through an email conversation facilitated by the U.S. Navy, Alexandre, daughter of Mary and Albert Alexandre, both of Sanford, talked about her Navy mission.

“My squadron, HSC-4, is currently deployed with Carrier Air Wing Two on board the USS Carl Vinson as part of a routine deployment to ensure freedom of navigation worldwide,”Alexandre wrote. “I deployed with HSC-4 on a similar deployment to the Pacific last year. The MH-60S has multiple functions within the strike group. We are able to carry both forward firing and crew-served weapons as part of our anti-surface warfare mission. However, on a day-to-day basis. we act as the Strike Group’s primary search and rescue asset. This requires us to be airborne anytime an aircraft in the Air Wing is flying. We also act as the primary logistics asset within the Strike Group. This requires us to fly to all of the other ships multiple times a day to move people and parts on what we refer to as “log runs.” Additionally, we provide vertical replenishment capability. This means that we move supplies and mail onto the ship whenever the supply ship comes to meet us.

“I think my most memorable flight happened on last deployment. My friend and I were manning the night standby aircraft. We got launched just before sunset to drop off maintenance supplies to an airfield in South Korea,” Alexandre continued. “We had about 45 minutes to plan our flight which took us across the entire country. It was definitely a challenge since none of the pilots or aircrew had ever flown into another country at that point. When we landed, we dropped off two maintainers and some parts. The aircraft commander ran down the street and bought some Gatorade and Oreos for the crew while we waited in the spinning aircraft before we flew back across the country through the mountains. We landed around 3 in the morning. By the time everything was shut down and the crew debriefed, we all rolled to breakfast.”

Alexandre earned her commission in 2014, after four years at Annapolis, and credits role models at Sanford High School, whom, she said, had a huge impact on her confidence and ability to be accepted to the naval academy. 

She was selected for the pilot program when she was a First Class Midshipman — the name given to seniors at the naval academy. After graduation, she attended flight school in Milton, Florida, earning her wings on Jan. 8, 2016. 

“From there I trained at the Fleet Replacement Squadron in San Diego, California, prior to checking in at HSC-4,” she wrote.

She’s recently been given additional responsibilities in her Navy job.

“Being a naval aviator is an awesome job, but the best part of my job is working with sailors,” said Alexandre. “I just took over as one of our aircrew division officers, and I have already learned a ton. I have been very blessed to have a chief that takes the time to mentor me and teach me how to do this job successfully.”

Alexandre, who plans to marry fiancé Jake Brantley in September, said she has six years remaining on her initial commitment to the U.S. Navy.

“I am not sure where my life will take me after that, but I am very excited to see what kinds of challenges and opportunities present themselves in that time,” she said.

— Senior Staff Writer Tammy Wells can be contacted at 324-4444 (local call in Sanford) or 282-1535, ext. 327 or twells@journaltribune.com.

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