Wilton native and Wilton High School graduate Nathan Hadley, 28, always knew he wanted to join the Navy.
At least, from the age of 7.
“My grandfather in Iowa was a lieutenant commander who served in Korea and World War II, and he had the basement of his house set up like a museum. They had every piece of paperwork that existed on his ship. You could spend your childhood on the family farm,” said Hadley, who visited his grandfather’s place in Iowa for two weeks each summer, growing up.
So he took the officer’s path himself. After graduating from Gettysburg College in Pennsylvania with bachelor’s degrees in political science and Spanish, he entered the Navy Officer Training program.
He now serves with the Commander Strike Fighter Wing, U.S. Pacific Fleet, in Lemoore, Calif. He is an ensign and works as an intelligence officer out of Naval Air Station Lemoore.
Hadley is responsible for security management, information assurance, operational security, and physical security.
“I am incredibly proud of what I do,” Hadley said by telephone Monday, Feb. 27. “I get a great deal of satisfaction out of what I’ve accomplished.”
He likes working along with the naval pilots, who he said are a lot of fun.
“My job has a measurable end product in making the world a better place,” Hadley said. “I can see immediate real-world effects in terms of improving the world and being a part of something much greater than I am.”
He misses his hometown, though.
“I do miss Wilton. It was a fun place to grow up, and I have a lot of fond memories of Wilton. It’s a place I’m proud to be from,” Hadley said.
Lemoore has been home to the Navy’s West Coast strike fighter community since 1980, when Strike Fighter Squadron VFA-125 was the first squadron established to train Navy and Marine Corps aviators in the F/A-18 Hornet, said Vice Adm. Mike Shoemaker, commander of Naval Air Forces.
The strike fighter wing ensures that each squadron is fully combat-ready to conduct carrier-based, all-weather attack, fighter and support missions for the Pacific fleet.
“My command is like a family,” said Hadley. “Everyone takes care of each other and ensures everyone is the best they can be. At the end of the day, everyone has each other’s back.”
With the CSFWP consisting of more than 20 squadrons, highly specialized jobs range from training new aviators to maintaining airframes and engines to handling and flying aircraft.
“It’s important to always listen and be prepared to act on the best idea in the room,” said Hadley.
It’s not just a job, it’s a career. And it’s one he hopes to have a long time.