KINGSBURG – There is a jet based out of the Marine Corps Air Station in Iwakuni, Japan, that carries a little bit of Kingsburg and Ronny and Mellissa Smith’s heart with it.
That jet flies with the Strike Fighter Squadron VFA 115 Eagles and the Smith’s daughter, ASAN(AW) Serena Smith, is serving in Japan as part of that squadron. She’s an Airman, Aviation Support Equipment Technician Striker in the Navy and it’s her task to keep a number of jets in battle-ready condition as a plane captain.
“She’s responsible for make sure the F/A-18E Super Hornet jet she’s responsible for is 100 percent mission ready,” Mellissa Smith said. “This is a qualification that takes six to 12 months to get.”
Although Smith is responsible for any of the squadron’s jets at all times, #304 was chosen as the jet to represent Serena and her hometown of Kingsburg. Smith’s rank, name and “Kingsburg” are emblazoned on that jet.
“This was a great honor. It makes me proud,” she said. “I love Kingsburg and the town. The people of Kingsburg always treated me well and I hope I can represent them with as much respect,” Serena Smith said.
She’s been deployed twice on the USS Ronald Reagan working on the flight deck at night, which is one of the most dangerous jobs in the Navy.
Smith has also been able to travel to multiple countries learning about their different cultures and trying many new and exciting things. She’s swam with sharks, skydived, hand fed kangaroos and deer, ziplined, hiked and had other exciting adventures when their ship stops in at different ports.
This past December, Smith won a trip from Kiss Country and Valley First Credit Union to return home for the holidays.
“It was great being able to see my family and meet the newest members who arrived while I was gone.”
While the Smiths say they miss their daughter, they are proud of her service.
“It’s hard not being able to just drive or hop on a plane to visit her, but I am proud of her and understand the lifestyle,” Mellissa Smith said. “I was a military child myself so I was never around my relatives. I did have the opportunity to visit Serena in Japan last year and was ecstatic to have her home for the holidays. I’m proud of her and everyone who serves in our armed forces.”
At Kingsburg High, Serena Smith played volleyball and was involved with Young Life before graduating in 2014. She also attended California State University, Fresno, for two years and played on CSUF’s rugby team where they won the first Western Division championship.