Huntington Beach native serves with Navy strike fighter squadron

Airman Marlene Rivas. Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Tim Miller.

A 2017 Marina High School graduate and Huntington Beach, California, native is currently serving with a U.S. Navy strike fighter squadron which flies one of the world’s most advanced warplanes.

Airman Marlene Rivas is an aviation electronics technician with the Gladiators of VFA 106, which operates out of Naval Air Station Oceana.

A Navy aviation electronics technician is responsible for maintaining the weapons system and overall brains of the aircraft.

Rivas credits success in the Navy to many of the lessons learned growing up in Huntington Beach.

“I was taught to always be on time and keep a smile during the challenging times,” said Rivas.

Members of VFA 106 fly and maintain 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 pounds, 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. Super Hornets are an all-weather aircraft used as an attack aircraft as well as a fighter. In its fighter mode, the F/A-18 is used primarily as a fighter escort and for fleet air defense; in its attack mode, it is used for interdiction and air support.

“I like the fact that we are at a training command,” said Rivas. “It allows me more time to learn about my job.”

A key element of the Navy the nation needs is tied to the fact that America is a maritime nation, according to Navy officials, and that the nation’s prosperity is tied to the ability to operate freely on the world’s oceans. More than 70 percent of the Earth’s surface is covered by water; 80 percent of the world’s population lives close to a coast; and 90 percent of all global trade by volume travels by sea.

Rivas is playing an important part in America’s focus on rebuilding military readiness, strengthening alliances and reforming business practices in support of National Defense Strategy.

“Our priorities center on people, capabilities and processes, and will be achieved by our focus on speed, value, results and partnerships,” said Secretary of the Navy Richard V. Spencer. “Readiness, lethality and modernization are the requirements driving these priorities.”

Though there are many ways for sailors to earn distinction in their command, community and career, Rivas is most proud of being selected as Bluejacket of the Month in March.

“It really showed me that hard work pays off in the end,” said Rivas. “It was an accumulation of all the work I had been doing.”

As a member of one of the U.S. Navy’s most relied-upon assets, Rivas and other sailors know they are part of a legacy that will last beyond their lifetimes providing the Navy the nation needs.

“Serving in the Navy means I get to work alongside people of various backgrounds that I would not have encountered otherwise,” added Rivas.

This article was written by Kayla Turnbow, Navy Office of Community Outreach.