By Kayla Turnbow, Navy Office of Community Outreach
Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Tim Miller
LEMOORE, Calif.- A 2008 Apifoou College in Tonga Island graduate and San Mateo, California, native is currently serving with a U.S. Navy strike fighter squadron which flies one of the world’s most advanced warplanes.
Seaman Malia Moala is a culinary specialist with the Warhawks of VFA 97, which operates out of Naval Air Station Lemoore. A Navy culinary specialist is responsible for preparing meals for the squadrons.
“Back in the islands, I had a lot of patience which I have been able to carry into the military,” Moala said. “You always sacrificed a lot for your family and yourself. In the military that has helped me get through a lot since I just joined the Navy last year.”
Members of VFA 97 work with the F/A 18 Super Hornet, one of the most advanced aircraft in the world. The Super Hornet takes off from and lands on Navy aircraft carriers at sea and is capable of conducting air-to-air combat as well as striking targets on land. It is approximately 61 feet long, has a loaded weight of 51,000 lbs., and a max speed of 1,190 miles per hour.
Operating from sea aboard aircraft carriers, the Super Hornet gives the Navy the power to protect America’s interests anywhere, at any time. The versatile jet has the ability to destroy targets located hundreds of miles inland, without the need to get another country’s permission to operate within its borders.
“Strike Fighter Wing, U. S. Pacific Fleet, based at Naval Air Station Lemoore, California, is the heart of Naval Aviation,” said Capt. James S. Bates, Deputy Commodore, Strike Fighter Wing, U.S. Pacific. “The sailors assigned to SFWP always exceed expectations and produce amazing results through team work and dedication to their department, squadron, the U.S. Navy and their family. Naval Aviation is a challenging occupation, but our sailors work day in and day out to provide fully mission capable aircraft and fully qualified aircrew to ensure leadership is able to answer national level tasking. I am humbled to be able to lead the sailors of SFWP and I am proud to call Lemoore my home.”
Moala has military ties with family members who have previously served and is honored to carry on the family tradition.
“I have two sisters in the Navy,” said Moala. “One of my sisters is in the Ceremonial Guard in D.C. and the other is in initial training school. They motivated me to join the Navy. I saw the benefits of what it could offer. It doesn’t just benefit me but my family.”
Moala is also proud of volunteering for the command and community outside in Lemoore.
As a member of one of the U.S. Navy’s most relied-upon assets, Moala and other sailors know they are part of a legacy that will last beyond their lifetimes providing the Navy the nation needs.
“First of all, serving means sacrificing myself for my family and country,” Moala said. “I came from a third world country so being able to give back to the states is an honor. It has taught me a lot of lessons and how to survive in life.”