Trofemuk improves communications links to nuclear missiles | Herald Community Newspapers | Panda Anku

John Trofemuk, a Baldwin-born lieutenant in the U.S. Navy, is a guy who “takes command and moves out.”

At Tinker Air Force Base in Oklahoma, Trofemuk serves in the US Navy as part of the nation’s nuclear deterrent mission in Strategic Communications Wing One, designated StratCommWing One. As part of the Take Charge and Move Out mission, it provides airborne communications links to nuclear missile units the US Strategic Command.

A 2008 graduate of Baldwin High School and a 2012 graduate of Molloy University, Trofemuk began his Navy career six years ago.

“I volunteered as a paramedic and firefighter and wasn’t sure what I wanted to do next,” Trofemuk said in a US Navy press release. “I knew I wanted to bring a sense of community and purpose to my work.” As a firefighter, his life changed when he struck up a conversation with the retired Navy captain.

“He told me he thought I’d be good in the Navy, so I listened and went to a recruiter,” he recalls. “I didn’t know what I wanted to be, but I passed the entrance exam and qualified as a pilot. The rest is history and I love it. Since joining I have felt nothing but purpose and that what I do matters.”

Trofemuk uses skills and stats similar to Baldwin’s to succeed in the Navy. “My hometown taught me never to give up,” Trofemuk said. “We didn’t have all the money in the world, but I was taught to do what I wanted. That led me to my career in the Navy.”

The presence of the Navy aboard an air force base in the middle of America might seem like an odd place given the distance from any ocean. However, the central location allows the use of aircraft on both coasts and in the Gulf of Mexico at short notice. This rapid response is key to the success of the nuclear deterrent mission.

Navy Command consists of a wing staff, the Center for Naval Aviation Technical Training, and three Fleet Air Reconnaissance Squadrons: the “Ironmen” of VQ 3, the “Shadows” of VQ 4, and the “Roughnecks” of VQ 7, the last of those Trofemuk serves. “The best thing about my job is flying,” says Trofemuk. “It’s something most people can’t say they do at work.”

StratCommWing One employs more than 1,300 active sailsors and 100 contractors to provide maintenance, security, operations, administration, training and logistical support for the Boeing E-6 Mercury fleet of aircraft, an airborne command post and a Boeing 707-based communications relay.

The mission dates back to the original 1961 Cold War order known as ‘Take Charge and Move!’” Adapted as TACAMO and now the command’s moniker, the men and women of TACAMO continue to provide a viable communications link between national decision-makers and the nation’s nuclear weapons.

The Commander-in-Chief issues orders to military personnel using nuclear weapons aboard submarines, aircraft, or land-based missile silos. Sailors aboard the TACAMO E-6 Mercury aircraft provide the unique and most durable communications needed for this critical mission.

With more than 90 percent of all commerce carried by sea and 95 percent of the world’s international telephone and Internet traffic carried over fiber optic cables lying on the seabed, Navy officials continue to stress that the prosperity and security of the United States is directly connected to a strong and ready navy.

Trofemuk is part of a team that is gaining new prominence in America’s focus on rebuilding military readiness, strengthening alliances and reforming business practices in support of the national defense strategy.

“The Navy has a global presence,” Trofemuk said. “We can be anywhere, anytime. In addition to being a show of force, we are also helping with humanitarian efforts. A great example of this is the Navy, which is helping during the pandemic by turning our ships into hospitals. It is nice to say that we are part of an organization that does so much good.”

Trofemuk and the sailors he serves have many opportunities to achieve success during their military service. “My proudest accomplishment in the Navy is qualifying as a flight instructor,” Trofemuk said. “It all comes down to wanting to help people. I have to do this every day.

“For me, serving in the Navy means helping others to be successful. I can make a living while contributing to something bigger than myself. The things we do affect global politics. It’s an honor to be a part of it.”

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