Arabian Gulf - Eight Sailors aboard USS Pinckney (DDG 91) became the first to receive their enlisted aviation warfare specialist (EAWS) designation on the guided missile destroyer.
Pinckney's selection to implement the EAWS program, which is provided by the embarked "Wolfpack" of Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 75, was a historic mark for their deployment.
"I'm really proud of my guys and the work they put into making this program successful," said Aviation Structural Mechanic 1st Class Joel Castillo, form Oceanside, California. "It's continuing to be a pleasure qualifying Pinckney surface warriors as enlisted aviation warfare specialists. I'm even more proud that the world-famous 'Wolfpack' is leading the charge, qualifying air warriors on a destroyer platform."
Cruiser and destroyer platforms historically only provide for an enlisted surface warfare specialist (ESWS) qualification, but since the pilot program aboard USS Spruance (DDG 111), more of the cruiser and destroyer platforms offer the opportunity during deployment with their embarked helicopter detachments.
"My father was an aviation machinist's mate and he never got his wings," said Electrician's Mate 1st Class Stephen Demint, from Brownsburg, Indiana. "I wanted to show him up a bit and put a smile on his face. I also wanted to set the example for my shipmates to, at all times, remain competitive among our peers."
During the ceremony, three Sailors from HSM 75 also earned their EAWS designations alongside their Pinckney shipmates.
"I feel like I have left an instant legacy," said Demint. "Not many Sailors have been afforded the opportunity to earn EAWS on the destroyer platform, and to be among a small list of air warfare-qualified Sailors from destroyers is an honor for me."
Pinckney will continue to run the EAWS program through the rest of deployment while HSM 75 is embarked.
Pinckney is currently deployed in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations in support of maritime security operations designed to reassure allies and partners, and preserve the freedom of navigation and the free flow of commerce in the region.