Wilkesboro native selected as Bluejacket of the Year aboard Strike Fighter Squadron 37


VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — Petty Officer 3rd Class Kayla Blackburn from Wilkesboro, North Carolina, was selected as Strike Fighter Squadron 37 (VFA-37) Bluejacket of the Year for 2015.

Blackburn is an aviation machinist mate serving with VFA-37 Ragin’ Bulls in Virginia Beach. VFA-37 is an F/A-18C Hornet squadron; the F/A-18C Hornet is a twin-engine supersonic all-weather carrier-capable multirole combat jet, designed as both a fighter and attack aircraft.

“I am so proud and honored to have been selected as the Bluejacket of the Year,” said Blackburn, who has been in the Navy for three years. “It’s amazing to see the hard work has paid off.”

The Bluejacket of the Year Program recognizes superior performance of enlisted personnel emphasizing outstanding achievements, exemplary personal conduct and military bearing, and demonstrated initiative in the performance of duty. This program also motivates personnel to strive for improvement in their assigned duties and leadership.

Aviation machinist mates (AD’s) are responsible for aircraft engine, fuel, and lubrication systems. They inspect, adjust, test, repair, and overhaul aircraft turbojet engines. AD’s also perform routine maintenance, prepare aircraft for flight, and assist in handling aircraft on the ground.

“I am the training coordinator and maintenance day check supervisor for power plants. I am responsible for providing continuous guidance, training and assistance to the sailors within the power plant department. I also assist in the handling and launching of aircraft,” said Blackburn.

Blackburn, a 2010 graduate of West Wilkes High School, is enrolled at Tidewater Community College working towards an Associates of Science degree. Her mother and father, Beckie Sheppard and Terry Blackburn, reside in Wilkesboro.

“I never left my hometown prior to joining the Navy and serving has given me the opportunity to gain experiences and travel. This has allowed me to learn responsibility, discipline, and self-reliance by not counting solely on mom and dad.”

Blackburn’s commanding officer, CDR Brandon Scott, said he is proud of the dedication to higher standards Blackburn has shown. She is a growing leader and an asset to her team.

“The sailors at this command are the hardest working people in the Navy,” said CDR Brandon Scott, VFA-37 commanding officer. “These men and women are devoted to the mission and ready to launch combat-ready aircraft, 24/7, anywhere in the world.”

“What I most enjoy about the Navy are the people and environment. It is such an honor to be a part of an organization that truly feels like a family,” said Blackburn.

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