North Rockland HS Alum Serves Aboard one of US Navy’s Most Advanced Warships

BY TIM MILLER
Navy Specialist First Class

A 2014 North Rockland High School graduate and Pomona native is serving in the U.S. Navy aboard the guided-missile destroyer USS Mason.

Navy Seaman Diego Alonso is a deck seaman aboard the warship, based in Norfolk, Va. USS Mason is named after Secretary of the Navy John Young Mason and Distinguished Flying Cross Recipient Ensign Newton Henry Mason. Working as a deck seaman, Alonso is responsible for activities relating to deck and boat seamanship and overseeing maintenance of the ship’s external structure and deck equipment.

“What I like most about what I do is the people I interact with on a daily basis,” Alonso said.

Alonso credits success in the Navy to many of the lessons learned in Rockland County.

“Growing up my parents taught me to be responsible, to be on-time, and to always carry yourself professionally,” Alonso said.

U.S. Navy sailors, like Alonso, are stationed both stateside and on the high seas aboard surface ships around the world. USS Mason is one of more than 60 ships on the east coast of the United States as part of Naval Surface Forces, U.S. Atlantic Fleet. U.S. Navy ships are deployed globally, and their presence helps the Navy control the sea. Sea control is vital to project power, secure common areas, deter aggression and assure allies when and where desired.

Due to its extensive combat capability, the Mason is able to fire Tomahawk Cruise Missiles and other weapons as part of sustained combat operations against targets on and below the sea, in addition to hitting targets hundreds of miles over the land. The ship is equipped with the Aegis Combat System, which integrates the ship’s electronic sensors and weapons systems to defend against anti-ship missile threats. The ship’s air search and fire control radar provides continuous search and tracking of hundreds targets simultaneously.

The crew of more than 300 sailors build a strong fellowship while working alongside each other. The sailors are highly motivated, and quickly adapt to changing conditions as part of a busy life of specialized work, watches and drills.

“Being on a destroyer, you get to learn about many different rates as well as your own job,” Alonso said. “It’s great to have so much responsibility in the work that I do.”

Though there are many ways for sailors to earn distinction in their command, community, and career, Alonso is most proud of being nominated for Blue Jacket of the Quarter and also receiving a letter of appreciation from the commanding officer.

“I believe it’s a reflection of the hard work I put in, it’s always nice to be rewarded,” Alonso said.

As a member of one of the U.S. Navy’s most relied upon assets, Alonso and other sailors know they are part of a legacy that will last beyond their lifetimes, one that will provide a critical component of the Navy the nation needs.

“Serving in the Navy gives me a great sense of pride and patriotism,” Alonso added. “I feel like I’m part of something much bigger than myself and I’m proud to say that I’m a Navy sailor.”