Clarkrange native patrols seas from the air for U.S. Navy

By Dustin Good, Navy Office of Community Outreach
Special to the UCBJ

OAK HARBOR, Wash. –Petty Officer 3rdClass Nakoda Cannon, a native of Clarkrange, joined the Navy to continue a family tradition of service. 

Now, three years later, Cannon serves as an aviation structural mechanic with the “The Skinny Dragons” of Maritime Patrol and Reconnaissance Squadron 4, working with the Navy’s cutting-edge maritime patrol and reconnaissance aircraft at Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, Wash. 

“The best part about being at this command is the chance to always be on land and getting to travel and see a lot of places,” said Cannon. 

Cannon, a 2016 graduate of Clarkrange High School, serves with VP-4, a high-tech maritime patrol and reconnaissance squadron tasked with monitoring the world’s oceans in the state-of-the-art P-8A “Poseidon.” 

“I am responsible for maintaining the structure of the aircraft,” said Cannon. 

Cannon credits success in the Navy to many of the lessons learned in Clarkrange. 

“Learning from my family and their experiences, I learned to keep moving forward,” said Cannon. “While serving, you’re not going to always encounter the best things, but if you keep moving forward, you’ll get through it.” 

VP-4’s primary mission is to conduct maritime patrol and reconnaissance as well as long-range anti-submarine warfare, anti-surface warfare and intelligence gathering missions. They deploy around the world to monitor the world’s oceans wherever they are needed. 

The P-8A Poseidon, the Navy’s newest maritime, patrol and reconnaissance aircraft, is a replacement aircraft for the legacy P-3C “Orion”. According to Navy officials, leveraging the experience and technology of the successful P-3C “Orion” with the needs of the fleet, the P-8A is designed to be combat-capable, and to improve an operator’s ability to efficiently conduct anti-submarine warfare; anti-surface warfare; and intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance missions. 

As the Navy transitions to the full capacity with the P-8A “Poseidon”, the aircraft continues the work- horse tradition established by the P-3C “Orion”. The P-8A has a planned state-of-the-art open architecture mission system and next-generation sensors. These capabilities give warfighters added protection. The aircraft empowers the fleet with more combat capability, responsiveness, and interoperability with traditional manned forces and evolving unmanned sensors. The P-8A “Poseidon” has significant growth potential, with planned, phased-in technological improvements that extend global reach, payload capacity and higher-operating altitude. 

“Working with the P-8 is like working with a commercial aircraft,” said Cannon. “So, it’s something you can use outside of the Navy.” 

Serving in the Navy means Cannon is part of a world that is taking on new importance in America’s focus on rebuilding military readiness, strengthening alliances and reforming business practices in support of the National Defense Strategy. 

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

“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, Cannon is most proud of knowing the job. 

“I like being able to know when things are wrong and knowing what to do,” said Cannon. “When someone may think you’re wrong, it gives you an opportunity to train them.” 

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

“Serving in the Navy means getting the chance to serve your country while bettering yourself,” said Cannon.

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