Lake Ronkonkoma, NY - May 19, 2016 - A 2000 Sachem High School graduate and Lake Ronkonkoma, New York native is serving “Where the future of naval aviation begins” at Naval Air Station (NAS) Patuxent River, located in Patuxent River, Maryland.
Petty Officer 1st Class Rafael Cabrera, Jr. is an air traffic controller at NAS Patuxent River, responsible for the overall safety of the aircrew and expeditious flow of air traffic.
Located at the mouth of the Patuxent River, the 14,500-acre complex is host to Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division (NAWCAD) headquarters and Headquarters, Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR). These two entities provide the full spectrum of acquisition management, research and development capabilities, air and ground test and evaluation, aircraft logistics and maintenance management.
“I enjoy the responsibility aspect of my job," said Cabrera. "As an air traffic controller, I am responsible for more lives in one day than a surgeon is in his entire career."
NAS Patuxent River is home to the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School and the Atlantic Test Range and 50 other tenant commands. The facilities at Patuxent River are utilized by foreign governments, academic institutions and private industry for similar projects and deliver effective and efficient installation management enabling tenants to achieve integrated warfare systems and life cycle sustainment.
Cabrera said he and other sailors are proud to be serving at a command that readily defends America at at all times.
“What I enjoy most about this command is not only the camaraderie that I share amongst my fellow sailors but having the opportunity to mold and shape junior air traffic controllers at a very complex air traffic control facility,” said Cabrera.
With more than 800 employees assigned to the host naval air station staff, the civilian and military “Pax Pros” work hard to ensure the continued security, safety and first-class services are provided to all 20,000+ employees working aboard the installation, according to Navy officials.
"The work our sailors and civilians do every day is extremely important to both the current health and future of Naval Aviation, and it directly impacts the Fleet," said Capt. Scott Starkey, Naval Air Station Patuxent River commanding officer. ”From our Naval Security Force that keep us secure, to our Fire and Emergency Services, child care professionals and morale welfare and recreation personnel, and our Air and Port Operations Team, and everything in-between, our PAX TEAM enables our tenants' missions and positively impacts research, development, testing and evaluation. We are extremely proud of our personnel and the important work they do every day."
Serving in Navy, Cabrera is learning about being more of a leader through handling numerous responsibilities.
"I've learned teamwork, integrity, and a strong work ethic since joining the Navy," said Cabrera. "The morals and values instilled in me by the Navy has made me both a better man and husband."
Written by Navy Office of Community Outreach