NUTLEY, NJ — Military service requires dedication, resilience, patriotism and strong foundations, all things that Jason Castellanos has in spades. The Nutley native was June’s “Sailor in the Spotlight,” an online feature put together by the U.S. Navy’s Helicopter Mine Countermeasures Squadron 14.
Castellanos, who graduated from Nutley High School in 2015, has been in the U.S. Navy for four years and has attained the rank of AWS2, or Naval Aircrewman Helicopter 2.
“Serving my country means holding myself to a higher standard regardless of the task at hand,” Castellanos told the Nutley Journal. “Everything I do is not only a representation of myself but a representation of the United States military, so I must always act accordingly and do my best to live up to the standards that the military has set for me.”
Castellanos’ experience has brought him a great deal of responsibility.
“As a naval aircrewman, I am third in command behind the pilot and copilot,” he said. “I am responsible for everything that happens in the cabin, whether that be loading cargo for humanitarian aid missions or monitoring passengers and delivering them to their destination safely.”
Specifically, he conducts airborne mine countermeasures, vertical onboard delivery and training missions on the MH-53E Sea Dragon, the U.S. Navy’s primary aerial mine countermeasures aircraft. He is currently assigned to detachment 2A’s Safety Department, where he completes routine checks on safety equipment and tracks the training of 92 personnel.
Among his many accomplishments, Castellanos has received awards for Sea Service, Korea Defense and Good Conduct.
“Since arriving in South Korea in January 2020 for his first deployment, AWS2 Castellanos has been a standout amongst his peers,” the spotlight announcement read. “In five months he has flown over 150 hours en route to multiple qualifications becoming a vital part of DET 2A’s team. AWS2 Castellanos’ trajectory will prove to have a significant impact on the MH-53E Aircrew community.”
According to Castellanos, joining the Navy was a calling.
“While attending Nutley High School, I always knew I wanted to be a part of something bigger than myself,” he said. “My uncle, Angelo Rosa, had a huge influence on my life. He is prior special forces — explosive ordnance division — and let me spend some time with him in Coronado, Calif., and gave me a tour of the naval station. It was there that I decided I was going to enlist.”
Castellanos’ mother, Erin Castellanos, says she could not be more proud of her son and his life path.
“Although there is a legacy of military in our family, Jay made the selfless decision to join the U.S. Navy on his own,” she told the Nutley Journal. “It absolutely fills the entire family with pride to know Jay is serving our great country. As parents, we all want all of our children to reach their full potential. We want to see our boys grow into brave, responsible, hardworking, honest adults. The U.S. Navy encompasses all of these character traits and it instills this in our son daily.”
For Jason Castellanos, these character traits he builds in the Navy are a continuation of the traits he began to build as a youth in Nutley.
“Growing up and always playing sports for Nutley made me appreciate being part of a team and working for a common goal,” he said. “The Navy instills some of the same ethics as participating in sports just on a larger scale, of course, like hard work, discipline, resilience, facing adversities.”
Photos Courtesy of Helicopter Mine Countermeasures Squadron 14