Black Rock Native serves with Navy Strike Fighter Squadron
Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Tim Miller LEMOORE, Calif.- A 2007 Hoxie High School graduate and Black Rock, Arkansas, native is currently serving with a U.S. Navy strike fighter squadron which flies one of the world’s most advanced warplanes.
Lt. James Propst is a pilot with the Kestrels of VFA 137, which operates out of Naval Air Station Lemoore. A Navy pilot is responsible for setting up flight schedules for the squadron and executing air-to-air and air-to-surface events. “Growing up I was taught to never forget who you are and never forget where you come from,” Propst said. “It's important to not let yourself get too arrogant when you are serving in an organization like the Navy.” Members of VFA 137 work with 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 lbs., 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, without the need to get another country’s permission to operate within its borders. “Strike Fighter Wing, U. S. Pacific Fleet, based at Naval Air Station Lemoore, California, is the heart of Naval Aviation,” said Capt. James S. Bates, Deputy Commodore, Strike Fighter Wing, U.S. Pacific. “The sailors assigned to SFWP always exceed expectations and produce amazing results through team work and dedication to their department, squadron, the U.S. Navy and their family. Naval Aviation is a challenging occupation, but our sailors work day in and day out to provide fully mission capable aircraft and fully qualified aircrew to ensure leadership is able to answer national level tasking. I am humbled to be able to lead the sailors of SFWP and I am proud to call Lemoore my home.” Propst has military ties with family members who have previously served and is honored to carry on the family tradition. “My older brother was in a guard unit and my grandfather served with the Army in WWII,” said Propst. “I always wanted to join the Navy as a child. I set my mind on that and never changed it. I wanted to do something I loved to do, which is flying.” As a member of one of the U.S. Navy’s most relied-upon assets, Propst 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 getting to make a difference,” Propst said.