By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Jackson G. Brown, Navy Office of Community Outreach

OAK HARBOR, Wash. – Petty Officer 3rd Class Michael Pugh, a native of Drummonds, wanted to give back to his country.

“I wanted to do my part serving the country,” said Pugh. “I wanted to give back for everything that’s been given to me, and the Navy gave me that opportunity.”


Now, three years after joining the Navy, Pugh serves with the “Skinny Dragons” of VP-4, working with the Navy’s cutting-edge maritime patrol and reconnaissance aircraft at Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, Washington.

“My squadron definitely has a ‘go’ mentality, and we all get the job done,” said Pugh. “We work hard, but it’s all for a good reason, keeping our aircraft flying.”

Pugh, a 2016 graduate of Munford High School, is an aviation structural mechanic 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 keep the structure of the aircraft flyable, and maintain the structure when it’s not up to par,” said Pugh.

Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Emilia Hilliard

Pugh credits success in the Navy to many of the lessons learned in Drummonds.

“My hometown is really gritty, so we always knew how to get the jobs done,” said Pugh. “My parents always taught me to work hard, and that’s helped me in the Navy.”

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.

“The aircraft is very versatile and can do anything the Navy needs it to do, and that’s very unique,” said Pugh.

Serving in the Navy means Pugh 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 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.

“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, Pugh is most proud of becoming an aviation structural mechanic

“I was previously an undesignated airman, which meant I didn’t have a specialization,” said Pugh. “Being able to find a specialization and excel in it has been very prideful for me.”

As a member of one of the U.S. Navy’s most relied upon assets, Pugh 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 is a great experience for me,” said Pugh. “No one really gets to meet as many different groups of people or gets to see as much of the world as we do, and it’s a really good journey.”

Echo Day
Author: Echo Day

Echo Day is an award-winning journalist, photographer and designer. She is currently The Leader's managing editor.