Navy P-3 Senior crewmen achieve career milestones
Naval Aircrewman Master Chief Steven Yarosh of the U.S. Navy and Naval Aircrewman Master Chief Glenn F. Welling, Jr. of the Navy Reserve
A friendship that began 33 years ago at Naval Air Station Barbers Point, Hawaii culminated in the sharing of career milestones this summer. On June 8, 2011, P-3 senior crewmen of the Active and Reserve Components, Naval Aircrewman Master Chief Steven Yarosh of the U.S. Navy and Naval Aircrewman Master Chief Glenn F. Welling, Jr. of the Navy Reserve, achieved 8,000 and 5,000 flight hours in the P-3 Aircraft, respectively, on a training and proficiency flight from Naval Air Station in Patuxent, MD.
Yarosh and Welling became close friends more than 30 years ago in 1979. As young Naval Aircrewmen, flying on P-3 aircraft was the second choice for both Welling and Yarosh, but it turned out to be a major aspect of both of their careers. They both were assigned to Patrol Squadron Four (VP-4) in Hawaii, whose members of that time became a brotherhood that remains close to this day. "The collective experience of being part of VP-4 was special. We all have a bond that has lasted decades as a result of those shared experiences," Welling said.
While Yarosh has recently retired, Welling remains a drilling reservist and credits Yarosh with helping him begin his career in the Navy Reserve. "I wouldn't have known about the Navy Reserve had it not been for Steve. And I owe everything I am today to my decision to join the Navy; my education, my wife and family, my current career, all made possible because of that decision, and being a member of the Navy Reserve has allowed me to continue to serve well beyond my active duty experience." Welling added, "Reaching 5,000 flight hours and being able to do so with Steve as he reached his 8,000th is something I never would have imagined when I joined the Navy."
Yarosh remembers dreaming of becoming a part of Naval Aviation as a kid. "It's all I've ever wanted to do." Yarosh said of his career. "I'm extremely fortunate to have been able to do it for 33 years." The milestone flight marked the end of Yarosh's Navy career, but he won't be far from the job he loved for so long after he retires. "Military careers have to come to an end sometime. My service isn't done though. Now I'll just have to work naval aviation in the private sector," Yarosh said with a laugh.
The milestone flight was made possible by the efforts of several people at Air Test and Evaluation Squadron One (VX-1). "They were integral in coordinating the flight so we could reach our milestones together," said Welling. The flight had more people in the crew than usual because of the monumental occasion. "People were jumping at the chance to be on board and be a part of this occasion. There was a clear respect and admiration for what we were about to accomplish," added Yarosh. It is not common for Naval Aircrewmen to reach those milestones anymore, and certainly not by two aviators that began their careers together in the same squadron.
From their first deployment to the Western Pacific to the ceremonial dousing by the fire hose after their milestone reaching flight, the P-3 senior crewmen have overcome challenges and enjoyed shared experiences that created a bond that will last forever. "The opportunity to come full circle and close a chapter with one of my closest friends is an experience that I will always treasure," Welling said. It is also an experience few others will ever have.