A 2012 Corona High School graduate and Corona, Calif., native is serving with Electronic Attack Squadron 130 (VAQ-130), also known as the “Zappers”.
Petty Officer 3rd Class William Gutzwiller is an aviation structural mechanic with VAQ-130, a Whidbey Island-based squadron that operates the Navy’s newly-designed electronic warfare aircraft, the EA-18G Growler. Each aircraft has two seats, is over 60 feet long, may weigh up to 66,000 lbs. (max gross) and can travel over 1,100 miles per hour and nearly 2,070 miles on a tank of gas.
As a 20 year old with numerous responsibilities, William said he enjoys his job with the squadron because he’s doing something he loves.
“I was born a mechanic, that’s my passion, and being in this squadron has really helped me further my mechanical expertise,” said Gutzwiller.
Gutzwiller is responsible for maintaining most of the jets’ external components such as the panels on the wings, tires, axles, and the aircrafts hydraulics systems.
“I like the problem solving aspect of my job. It’s not just about fixing problems on the aircraft, I need to be able to diagnose the problem and figure out why it happened so we can prevent it from happening again,” Gutzwiller explained.
Gutzwiller is proud of the work he is doing as part of the squadron’s 174-member military team who protect America on the world’s oceans, and enjoys working with them.
“I like this squadron because it’s smaller than others, it’s easy to get to know people and the camaraderie around here is great,” said Gutzwiller.
Sailors’ jobs are highly varied with VAQ-130. Approximately 32 officers and 142 enlisted men and women make up and keep all parts of the squadron running smoothly — this includes everything from maintaining aircraft airframes and engines, to processing paperwork, handling weaponry, and flying the aircraft.
“Every day I feel an extraordinary amount of pride to serve alongside our great Nation’s most inspiring men and women,” said Cmdr. Eric Illston, VAQ-130’s commanding officer. “Our team is filled with hardworking and highly qualified professionals who hold uncommon levels of responsibility and accountability in support of our mission: To win in combat with trained aircrew and combat ready aircraft whenever called upon to support and defend the Constitution of the United States through the military element of power. Their work ethic, commitment, enthusiasm, and esprit de corps are second to none!”
The EA-18G Growler is the fourth major variant of the F/A-18 family of aircraft that combines the proven F/A-18F Super Hornet platform with a sophisticated electronic warfare suite. Built to replace the EA-6B Prowler, the Growler is the first newly-designed electronic warfare aircraft produced in more than 35 years. The aircraft also retains all of the F/A-18E/F’s multi-mission capabilities with its validated design and the capability to perform a wide range of enemy defense suppression missions.
As a member of one of the U.S. Navy’s newest electronic warfare aircraft platforms, Gutzwiller and other VAQ-130 sailors are proud to part of a warfighting team that readily defends America at all times.