Rochelle native serving on nuclear deterrence mission


By Lt. Cmdr. Gustav Hein
Navy Office of Community Outreach

TINKER AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. – A 2003 Rochelle Township High School graduate and Rochelle native in the U.S. Navy supports the nation’s nuclear deterrence mission.
Petty Officer 2nd Class Roni Smith is a Navy personnel specialist serving with Fleet Air Reconnaissance Squadron 4, a versatile command capable of operating E6-B Mercury aircraft under USSTRATCOM operational control providing a survivable and endurable airborne communications link to the nation’s strategic forces.
Smith is responsible for administering all human resource related issues such pay and career information.
Smith credits success in the Navy to many of the lessons learned growing up in Rochelle.
“I grew up in a small town which taught me how to get along with people,” said Smith.
The mission stems from the original 1961 Cold War order known as ‘Take Charge and Move Out!’ Adapted as TACAMO and now the command’s nickname, today, the men and women of TACAMO continue to provide a survivable communication link between national decision makers and the nation’s nuclear weapons.
The commander-in-chief issues orders to members of the military who operate nuclear weapons aboard submarines, aircraft or in land-based missile silos. Sailors aboard TACAMO E-6 Mercury aircraft provide the one-of-a-kind and most-survivable communication needed for this critical mission.
“It’s a very tight knit community and everyone is really friendly and looks out for each other,” said Smith.
The Navy’s presence aboard an Air Force base in the middle of America may seem like an odd location given its distance from any ocean; however, the central location allows for the deployment of aircraft to both coasts and the Gulf of Mexico on a moment’s notice. This quick response is key to the success of the nuclear deterrence mission.
“We have a great amount of responsibility serving as nuclear deterrent and it’s an honor to serve here,” said Smith.
Sailors serving from America’s heartland take pride in the vital mission they support as well as the nuclear deterrence they help provide.
“I believe in being selfless and serving my country with distinction,” said Smith.

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