Hyattsville native serves with Navy Strike Fighter Squadron

Photo courtesy the Navy Office of Community Outreach Public Affairs.

BY NAVY OFFICE OF COMMUNITY OUTREACH PUBLIC AFFAIRS — A 2010 Northwestern High School graduate and Hyattsville native is currently serving with the U.S. Navy’s Strike Fighter Squadron 14, also known as the “Tophatters”, at Naval Air Station Lemoore in California.

Petty Officer 3rd Class Diana Vivar is an aviation machinist’s mate with the squadron, which the Navy designates as VFA-14, and works with the Navy’s most lethal and versatile strike fighter aircraft, the F/A-18E Super Hornet.

Two F/A-18E Super Hornets from the Tophatters of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 14. Photo courtesy the U.S. Navy.

Two F/A-18E Super Hornets from the Tophatters of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 14. Photo courtesy the U.S. Navy.

“I fix aircraft engines and fuel systems,” said Vivar.

The Super Hornet takes off from and lands on Navy aircraft carriers and is capable of conducting air-to-air combat as well as air-to-surface combat. It is approximately 61 feet long, has a max loaded weight of 66,000 lbs., and a max speed of 1,190 miles per hour.

Operating from the 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.

“I enjoy the teamwork and the experience I get working here,” said Vivar.

Vivar said she is proud of the work she is doing as part of the squadron’s 217-member team, helping to protect America on the world’s oceans.

“The ultimate goal is to get the aircraft flying and my job helps the aircrew reach that mission,” said Vivar.

Sailors’ jobs are highly varied in VFA-14. Approximately 24 officers and 193 enlisted men and women make up and keep all parts of the squadron running smoothly — this includes everything from maintaining aircraft airframes and engines, to processing paperwork, handling weaponry, and flying the aircraft.

“VFA-14 is made up of a group of hardworking and skilled individuals whom work exceptionally well together,” said Cmdr. Tommy Locke, VFA-14’s commanding officer. “Being a part of a squadron with as much history as VFA-14 instills a lot of pride and honor in our team and in the work we do. Everyone knows their job and what is expected of them to complete our mission.”

The Tophatters are the Navy’s oldest active squadron, having formed in 1919. Since the squadron’s inception they have flown 23 different types of aircraft, changed designations 14 times, and operated from 20 different aircraft carriers.

“I like when the squadron deploys because I get to go to different countries and experience their culture,” said Vivar.