A 2015 Dekalb County High School graduate and Murfreesboro, Tennessee, native is currently serving with a U.S. Navy strike fighter squadron which flies one of the world's most advanced warplanes.
Petty Officer 3rd Class Benjamin Mahaffey is an aviation electronics technician with the Fighting Redcocks of VFA 22, which operates out of Naval Air Station Lemoore. A Navy aviation electronics technician is responsible for maintaining anything electrical on the jet, troubleshooting any issues from navigation, weapons firing systems, and radar.
"I grew up in the country and we were always taught to work harder," Mahaffey said. "I carried that work ethic into my Navy career."
Members of VFA 22 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."
Mahaffey has military ties with family members who have previously served and is honored to carry on the family tradition.
"My grandfather was in the Army and there are several people on my mom's side in the Navy," said Mahaffey. "I knew when I was very young that I wanted to be in the military."
Mahaffey is also proud of earning the Air Warfare Pin for becoming qualified in aircraft.
As a member of one of the U.S. Navy's most relied-upon assets, Mahaffey 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 that you have the opportunity to learn a lot," Mahaffey said. "You learn a lot about life and how to do deal with people. It requires you to mature and is a great professional opportunity."