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Turlock native serving with U.S. Navy Helicopter Squadron
Mark Cruz
Petty Officer 3rd Class Mark Cruz, a native of Turlock, joined the Navy three years ago. Today, Cruz serves as a personnel specialist with Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 28 (Photo by Specialist 1st Class Patricia Elkins/Navy Office of Community Outreach).


Navy Office of Community Outreach


Petty Officer 3rd Class Mark Cruz, a native of Turlock, serves the U.S. Navy assigned to a helicopter squadron operating out of Norfolk, Virginia.

Cruz graduated in 2020 from Turlock High School.

The skills and values needed to succeed in the Navy are similar to those found in Turlock.

“Turlock taught me to never give up,” said Cruz. “The COVID-19 pandemic put people back home in a slump, but I stuck with the program and it was very fulfilling.”

Cruz joined the Navy three years ago. Today, Cruz serves as a personnel specialist with Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 28.

“I joined the Navy because it’s something I have wanted to do ever since I was a kid,” said Cruz. “I watched a lot of military movies growing up and that had a major impact on my decision making.”

Members of HSC-28 fly and maintain the Navy’s MH-60S Knighthawk helicopter. Navy helicopters are able to perform many different missions. In general, some of the most common operations include search and rescue, air assaults, medical evacuations, supply transport and hunting submarines.

This year commemorates 50 years of women flying in the U.S. Navy. In 1973, the first eight women began flight school in Pensacola, Florida. Six of them, known as “The First Six,” earned their “Wings of Gold” one year later. Over the past 50 years, the Navy has expanded its roles for women to lead and serve globally and today our women aviators project power from the sea in every type of Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard aircraft. According to Navy officials, our nation and our Navy are stronger because of their service.

Serving in the Navy means Cruz is part of a team that is taking on new importance in America’s focus on rebuilding military readiness, strengthening alliances and reforming business practices in support of the National Defense Strategy.

“The Navy is important to national defense because we maintain the freedom of the seas,” said Cruz. “Having a global presence shows that America is ready to deploy anywhere in a timely and effective manner.”

With 90% of global commerce traveling by sea and access to the internet relying on the security of undersea fiber optic cables, Navy officials continue to emphasize that the prosperity of the United States is directly linked to trained sailors and a strong Navy.

Cruz has many opportunities to achieve accomplishments during military service. 

“My proudest accomplishment was getting promoted to the rank of petty officer third class,” said Cruz. “Originally, I was a hospital corpsman, so getting promoted was a big deal for me.”

As Cruz and other sailors continue to train and perform missions, they take pride in serving their country in the U.S. Navy.

“Serving in the Navy means I am financially secure and stable,” said Cruz. “That means a lot because I am the first person in my family to break the tradition of going to college.”

Cruz is grateful to others for helping make a Navy career possible.

“I would like to thank Marine Corps retired Maj. Kelly Cross,” added Cruz. “He was my Junior ROTC teacher. He guided me out of a dark time and led me on the path that was meant for me.”