Channel 1 Los Angeles
Images Courtesy Congressman Elect Mike Garcia
First generation American citizen Mike Garcia is a highly decorated United States Naval Officer whose record-setting flying performance earned him the honor of becoming one of the first Super Hornet strike fighter pilots in the Navy. He flew over 30 combat missions during Operation Iraqi Freedom in the skies above Baghdad, Fallujah and Tikrit.
Garcia is a native of Santa Clarita since his move to Saugus in 1982 with his mom and step-dad (LAPD officer) at the age of 6. Since this young age Garcia yearned to serve his nation and had his sights set on becoming a Naval Aviator. “At the age of 6 I knew I wanted to fly fighter jets off of aircraft carriers in defense of my country, my decision to run for Congress is a continuation of that desire to serve and a sense of responsibility to serve my country and my district.”
A top graduate of Saugus High School in 1994, Garcia was nominated by Representative Howard “Buck” McKeon to attend the US Naval Academy in Annapolis. Garcia graduated in the top 3% of his Annapolis class with a bachelor’s degree (Major in Political Science with 60% of his syllabus comprised of engineering courses, and a minor in Spanish). In May of 1998 he was commissioned as an officer in the U.S. Navy with orders to attend flight school in Pensacola, Florida.
As an F/A-18 pilot Garcia was deployed several times on the USS Nimitz, a nuclear powered aircraft carrier. He was lauded as one of the best leaders and one of the most naturally talented pilots in the Navy. He saw combat operations during the first 6 months of Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003 and participated in over 30 combat sorties in the skies above Baghdad, Fallujah and Tikrit.
“My operational service in the Navy was the pinnacle of a career. While my family made great sacrifices the reward of serving our country and providing for its defense was well worth it,” said Garcia, a first generation American whose father legally immigrated to the US in 1959.
Accruing over 1400 hours of operational flight time after nearly 20 years of military service to our country, Garcia decided to separate from the US Navy with an Honorable Discharge and focus on his family. While he continued as a reservist instructor pilot, Garcia moved back to the 25th District in 2009 and began to work for the Raytheon Company.