TINKER AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. – A 2008 St. Stanislaus High School graduate and Bay St. Louis, Mississippi, native in the U.S. Navy supports the nation’s nuclear deterrence mission.
Photo by Chief Mass Communication Specialist Erica Gardner
Lt. Nathan Kren is a Navy pilot serving with Fleet Air Reconnaissance Squadron 7, a versatile command capable of 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.
Kren is a 2012 graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy and is the lead instructor pilot of the E-6B aircraft. He instructs about 35 student pilots a year.
Kren credits success in the Navy to many of the lessons learned growing up in Bay St. Louis.
“High school sports really instilled a sense of discipline that really set me up for success and helped me get in the Naval Academy,” said Kren. “The academy taught me the discipline and the structure required to be successful in the Navy.”
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.
“I really enjoy the camaraderie,” said Kren. “We have a small community of instructors here, so you get to know everyone on an individual basis as well as their families.”
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.
“It has taught me that the nuclear weapon is a very scary weapon,” said Kren. “I think of deterrence as helping us protect America and so we never have to use such a terrible weapon.”
Sailors serving from America’s heartland take pride in the vital mission they support as well as the nuclear deterrence they help provide.
“I come from a long line of service in the military,” said Kren. “It is very humbling to be part of a service that has such a diverse sense of responsibilities.