Text NAVYBONUS to 764764 for information.
Text HELP for help. Msg & data rates may apply.

The Protector

United States Navy Aircrewman Esmelin Villar prepares for takeoff in the back of an MH-60 Romeo helicopter.

So Others May Live

On your worst day, when disaster has struck and all hope seems lost, AWRCS Esmelin Villar would dive out of an MH-60 Romeo helicopter and into dangerous waters to save your life. Even if he didn’t know your name, he would put his life on the line to make sure you made it home.

Esmelin loved growing up in the Dominican Republic. But as he got older, he and his mother dreamed of bigger opportunities. Moving to New York City gave them the life they always wanted.

At 18 years old, Esmelin was heading downtown on a subway one day when the train stopped without warning. After an hour and a half of waiting and wondering, a voice came over the intercom: “The trains are not going downtown anymore. We need everyone to disembark at the next stop. A plane has just crashed into the Twin Towers.”

When Esmelin disembarked the train and came up to the street level, he could see the actual dust settling downtown despite being miles away.

It felt like the country he’d grown to love was crumbling around him.

Watching the news that night, he couldn’t believe that his country was attacked. He knew he wanted to do something, to make a difference somehow. Esmelin answered that call by heading into a Navy recruiting station. And months later, he was a Deck Seaman in the Navy.

United States Navy Aircrewman Esmelin Villar catches his breath during Search and Rescue Swimmer training.

Standing on the flight deck of a ship one day, the spinning blades of a helicopter caught Esmelin’s eye. The aircraft had landed at the back of the ship to gather parts and a Sailor in an olive-green aviation uniform stepped out with a huge smile on his face. Esmelin remembered thinking how happy he looked to be there, like he could feel the pride the Sailor had in his job.

He asked around and discovered that the Sailor wasn’t a Pilot but an Aircrewman, an Enlisted member of the Navy like himself. Esmelin had always had a fascination with aircraft and loved everything about the Blue Angels. As soon as he learned that he could fly as an Enlisted Sailor, he decided that’s exactly what he wanted to do. That one day he would step out of that helicopter and look as happy as that Aircrewman.

When Esmelin transitioned into his new role, one of the first things he learned was the Search and Rescue motto: “So Others May Live”. Those words summarized the whole of his training and his new life as an Aircrewman. From the first day of training, he felt the unique bond that only occurs when someone else’s life is in your hands.

Esmelin knew his training had paid off the day he saved his first life.

Somebody had stopped breathing. As a young Sailor, he questioned whether he’d actually be able to accomplish a successful rescue. But the training he’d completed allowed him to act on instinct, like he’d practiced a thousand times before. When the person started breathing again, his feelings were nothing short of euphoric.

United States Navy Aircrewman Esmelin Villar watches a soccer game with his wife Sarah while holding his child.

Selflessness became second nature. And Esmelin found that he loved protecting people above all else.  

Lessons from his career influenced his home life too. Esmelin’s wife Sarah is also a Sailor, working in the Navy as a Personnel Specialist. When it comes to raising their family of seven kids, Esmelin and Sarah work together as a team to make sure everyone makes it to soccer practices, skate parks and family dinners on time. They raise their big family with all the trust and respect you would expect between two Sailors. Some people think it’s chaos, but they wouldn’t have it any other way.

A few of Esmelin’s kids still wear diapers while others are old enough to begin considering their own careers. But regardless of age, he strives to teach his kids to respect and care for all people.

Esmelin’s philosophy is that anyone can care for a total stranger, enough to dive headfirst into rough seas to be someone’s last chance at survival. That final hope to see their loved ones again. Even if he didn’t know who you were, he would know that you’re worth saving and take the leap.

TACTICAL ROMEO HELICOPTER AIRCREWMAN

United States Navy Aircrewman Esmelin Villar carries a rescued victim on a stretcher.

Being a Tactical Romeo Helicopter Aircrewman is just like searching for a needle in a haystack—only the needle is a deadly weapon and the haystack is 139 million square miles. As part of the helicopter aircrew, you search the open water in MH-60 Romeos for submarines that lurk beneath. These Aircrewmen are also trained rescue swimmers, leaping from helicopters into the sea to save lives. When lives are on the line, they are exceptionally adept at answering the call. As part of the most elite helicopter emergency response team in the world, you’ll be tasked with saving the lives of people caught in the waves. Living by the motto, “So others may live,” Aircrewmen put their skills to the test for others each time they leap into the sea.

Learn more about what it takes to be a Tactical Romeo Helicopter Aircrewman.

Explore the role and responsibilities of an Aviation Rescue Swimmer.

More Episodes

The Quiet Professional

Silence is a weapon. And no one wields it better than SWCC Boat Operator Nick O’Sullivan. Meet one of the Navy’s best kept secrets now.

READ MORE

The Provider

When Ana Monterrosa became a single mother at 18, everyone told her to stop chasing her dreams, but Ana knew she was capable of more.

READ MORE

Snipe

Engineman Desirae Martinez rolled up her sleeves to become one of the Navy’s first female Mark VI Patrol Boat coxswains.

READ MORE

The Bridge

After a traumatic accident, Hospital Corpsman Dominique Velazquez made a miraculous recovery and joined the Navy to pay it forward.

READ MORE

Liberated

Health Care Administrator Diana Tran-Yu proudly serves the country that gave her freedom.

READ MORE

The Lens

Photographer Kathleen Gorby tells the Navy’s story through the lens of her camera.

READ MORE

Chaps

Chaplain LT Autumn Wilson found that opening her mind can help open others’ hearts.

READ MORE

Patch Wearers

The real pilots of TOPGUN aren't the mavericks the world believes they are.

READ MORE

Homecoming

Doctor treats infectious diseases worldwide—including her childhood home of Liberia.

READ MORE

The Interpreter

Digging for purpose didn’t happen in her own backyard—it took her all the way to Bahrain.

READ MORE

The Seventh Sailor

Home's hard to leave. This Sailor watched 6 siblings join the Navy before it was his turn.

READ MORE

The Wallflower

Sometimes, it takes four legs to remind you how important your purpose is in the world.

READ MORE

Stuntwoman

Dreamed of doing her own stunts but found action that doesn't end when they yell "cut."

READ MORE

The Achiever

For one homeless teen, a Navy education offered a chance to make the world a better place.

READ MORE

El Oyente

Justin Alvarado found his way as he journeyed to Spain in search of a new path in the Navy.

READ MORE

Junior

Michael Benitez thought he was leaving family behind but found a new one joining the Navy.

READ MORE

THE WALK-ON

Some train to play college football, but former SEAL Damian Jackson simply walked on.

READ MORE

Selfless

When this Sailor must leave her family to ensure their future, her strength is tested.

READ MORE

Lifeline

Being curious changed this Sailor's mind about the Navy. Then it changed her life.

READ MORE

The Ascender

A life of relocation and instability set him up to fail, but the Navy ensured his success.

READ MORE

Life Preserver

A life preserver. Sailor saves people from perils at sea and feeds the hungry on days off.

READ MORE

Dirt Sailor

This Sailor learned the importance of a meaningful life while staying true to his roots.

READ MORE

The Driver

As a Navy Reserve Sailor in America's Navy, he’s also chasing his dreams to become a NASCAR driver.

READ MORE

Momma Bear

She juggles multiple roles with pride and proves you can accomplish anything in the Navy.

READ MORE

Miss Congeniality

In remaining an individual, she exemplifies the strength in staying true to yourself.

READ MORE

Citizen No. T399836

Sailor uses personal struggles by giving back to the country that gave his family so much.

READ MORE