Pictured above: Petty Officer 3rd Class Dalton Blackwelder – Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Arthurgwain Marquez
By Kayla Turnbow, Navy Office of Community Outreach
SAN DIEGO – Most Americans rely on weather forecasts to plan their daily routine. The U.S. Navy is no different. With numerous ships, submarines and airplanes deployed in the U.S. Pacific Fleet’s area of operations, sailors stationed at Fleet Weather Center San Diego, make it their primary mission to monitor weather conditions in support of the fleet’s daily operations.
Petty Officer 3rd Class Dalton Blackwelder, a 2011 Central Cabarrus High School graduate and native of Kannapolis, North Carolina, is one of these sailors serving at the Fleet Weather Center, providing full-spectrum weather services to shore-based commands and afloat naval units.
As a Navy aerographer’s mate, Blackwelder is responsible for tracking oceanography and meteorology weather phenomenon so aircrafts and ship can successfully operate.
Blackwelder credits success in the Navy to many of the lessons learned in Kannapolis.
“I was the senior class president and junior class vice president, which taught me leadership,” said Blackwelder. “We even had a leadership class in my high school. Knowing the importance of leadership has helped me a lot in the Navy.”
Additionally, sailors serving with the Fleet Weather Center ensure naval installations, contingency exercises and operations are able to facilitate risk management, resource protection and mission success of fleet, regional and individual unit commanders.
Fleet Weather Center San Diego provides U.S. and coalition ship, submarine and aircraft weather forecasts including en route and operating area forecasts. In addition, they deploy certified Strike Group Oceanography Teams and Mobile Environmental Teams from the commands to provide tactical warfighting advantage for strike and amphibious forces afloat through the application of meteorological and oceanographic sciences.
“Naval Oceanography defines and applies the physical environment for the entire Navy fleet from the bottom of the ocean to the stars,” said Rear Adm. John Okon, Commander, Naval Meteorology and Oceanography Command. “There isn’t a plane that flies, a ship or a submarine that gets underway without the sailors and civilians of Naval Oceanography.”
The U.S. Pacific Fleet is the world’s largest fleet command, encompassing 100 million square miles, nearly half the Earth’s surface, from Antarctica to the Arctic Circle and from the West Coast of the United States into the Indian Ocean.
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.
Being stationed in San Diego, the principal homeport of the Pacific Fleet, means Blackwelder is playing an important part in America’s focus on rebuilding military readiness, strengthening alliances and reforming business practices in support of the 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.”
The Pacific is home to more than 50 percent of the world’s population, many of the world’s largest and smallest economies, several of the world’s largest militaries, and many U.S. allies. The Navy has been pivotal in helping maintain peace and stability in the Pacific region for decades, according to Navy officials.
Though there are many ways for sailors to earn distinction in their command, community and career, Blackwelder is most proud of being the Senior White Rope at Kessler Air Force Base.
“I want to be a chaplain, so that position put me in the driver seat to see how it all worked,” said Blackwelder. “It put me around the people I want to work with and be around.”
Serving in the Navy is a continuing tradition of military service for Blackwelder, who has military ties with family members who have previously served. Blackwelder is honored to carry on that family tradition.
“I had an uncle in the Marines and another uncle in the Army,” said Blackwelder. “My best friend, which I call my brother, was my biggest influence to join the Navy. We have been best friends for 20 years. I saw the structure of his life and how the Navy helped him.”
As a member of one of the U.S. Navy’s most relied-upon assets, Blackwelder 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 making sure your uniform is correct, you are doing your job and everyone is doing their job to the fullest of their capacity,” added Blackwelder. “The Navy is a team effort, not just something you can do by yourself.”