Jeannette native works on advanced Navy helicopter |

Jeannette native works on advanced Navy helicopter

Megan Tomasic
Courtesy U.S. Navy
Mia Harshbarger, a 2015 Jeannettte High School graduate, serves with the Navy’s Raptors of Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron 71, keeping maintenance log books for the MH-60R helicopter.

When Jeannette native Mia Harshbarger joined the Navy, she didn’t know she would be working on one of the branch’s most advanced helicopters.

But three years into her career, the 2015 Jeannette High School graduate helps maintain the MH-60R “Seahawk” helicopter and she has earned rank and the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal.

“Being in the Navy makes me very proud,” Harshbarger said in a news release. “I’m very proud to put on my uniform every day. I feel like a lot of people struggle to find purpose in their jobs, but I can’t say that about mine because of the importance the Navy has in our world.”

Based at the Naval Air Station in North Island, San Diego, Petty Officer 3rd Class Harshbarger serves with the Raptors of Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron 71, keeping maintenance log books for the MH-60R.

“We’re tracking parts and components that have to be maintained at specific times, and if we don’t track them, the aircraft wouldn’t be able to fly,” Harshbarger said.

Established in 2007, the squadron was the first to employ the MH-60R, according to its website. The squadron has been awarded the Commander Naval Air Forces Blue “M” for medical readiness five years in a row and the Retention Excellence Award for the third consecutive year. Members deploy across the world, defending and supporting the USS John C. Stennis Carrier Strike Group.

MH-60R helicopters are used for anti-submarine and surface warfare. Secondary missions include medical evaluations, vertical replenishment, naval surface fire support, communications relay, command, control, communications and non-combat operations.

Harshbarger said she could not have gotten where she is without lessons learned in Jeannette and her family.

“My family taught me the value of staying positive, especially in hard situations,” she said. “Your life and adventures are going to be what you make them, so it’s important to stay positive.”

Harshbarger added that when she first joined the Navy she got off to a rough start. But by applying her family’s advice, she was able to “turn that around, make rank and (earning) that award makes me very proud,” she said.

Megan Tomasic is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Megan at 724-850-1203, [email protected] or via Twitter .

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