Apache Junction native supports Navy’s nuclear deterrence

Petty Officer 2nd Class Justin Ballow. (Dusty Good)

A 2010 Apache Junction High School graduate and Apache Junction native in the U.S. Navy supports the nation’s nuclear deterrence mission, at Tinker Air Force Base, Oklahoma. 

Petty Officer 2nd Class Justin Ballow is a naval aircrewmen (avionics) serving with Fleet Air Reconnaissance Squadron 7, a versatile command using a myriad of tools to execute aircrew training, including classrooms, laboratories, E6-B aircraft, full motion high fidelity flight simulators, weapons systems trainers, and various computer-based training aids. In addition, as the E-6B model manager, VQ-7 is charged with ensuring training and operational standardization among all users of the E-6B aircraft weapons system.

Petty Officer 2nd Class Ballow is responsible for supervising four other personnel to carry out airborne communications.

He credits success in the Navy to many of the lessons learned growing up in Apache Junction.

“My hometown taught me that if you continue to work hard good things are going to happen,” said Petty Officer 2nd Class Ballow.

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,” said Petty Officer 2nd Class Ballow. “We can all depend on each other.”

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.

“Knowing our mission, means knowing that we are keeping the nation safe,” said Petty Officer 2nd Class Ballow.

Sailors serving from America’s heartland take pride in the vital mission they support as well as the nuclear deterrence they help provide.

“Being in the Navy is being part of a bigger picture and working for something greater than just myself,” said Petty Officer 2nd Class Ballow.

Editor’s note: Lt. Cmdr. Gustav Hein is with the Navy Office of Community Outreach

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