'It Felt Great To Be Able To Assist'
Three pilots from Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron (Light)
(HSL) 43, homeported at Naval Air Station North Island in San
Diego, CA, shared their experiences from providing humanitarian
relief following both the Southeast Asia Tsunami and Hurricane
Katrina to 6th- through 8th-grade students last month at Montgomery
Middle School in San Diego.
The pilots -- Lt. Steven Dobesh, Lt. Joseph Fiksman and Lt.
Patrick Cliggett -- showed the children a slideshow of images
captured from the tsunami and hurricane relief, as well as a video
they shot and produced. During the presentation, they described to
the children the relief efforts and what was taking place in the
"It felt great to be able to assist," said Fiksman about the
relief efforts. "We always train to perform our mission, and it
really gets the adrenaline pumping when we actually get to perform.
It was very satisfying to be able to provide assistance on one side
of the world and then come back and do it in the United
Sixth-grade teacher Charisa Piety said she thought it was
important for the students to grasp what was in the video to learn
from a firsthand perspective the intensity of the tsunami and
"That was sad," said Cruz Otero, a 7th-grade student who had
just finished watching the presentation. "Those people didn’t
have anywhere to live and no food to eat and stuff. Some of them
were even our age. Some people couldn’t even find their
parents. It makes me very sad."
Vice Principal Marsha Dudley said the presentation was important
to the school because a lot of the children in the school have
parents in the military.
"It’s always important for the kids to see for themselves
and share with their friends what their parents do and the
demanding tasks and important things that are done in the United
States Navy," said Dudley.
"I also think the military is going to provide one of the many
career opportunities for these students in the future, and
it’s important for them to see the excitement, challenges and
variety of jobs that are available by coming into the service,"
For the pilots, the presentation was an opportunity to represent
HSL-43 and show the community some of the squadron’s
"It was great to be able to show the children just exactly what
things looked like over there, what we had done, and to share with
them our experience," Cliggett said.
Cmdr. David Fluker, HSL-43 commanding officer, praised Cliggett,
Dobesh and Fiksman for sharing their story with the school.
"I think they embody the professionalism of naval aviation," he
said. "I couldn’t be more proud of them for going and bonding
with the community and giving them an understanding of what we
(Aero-News salutes Journalist 1st Class (SW) Ahron Arendes,
Commander, Naval Air Forces Public Affairs)