By Rene Ray De La Cruz, Staff Writer
Posted Nov 23, 2016 at 8:18 AM

ADELANTO — Navy veteran William Walker said he’s thankful for his new job, where he has the opportunity to use his unique skills. After being out of work for nearly two years, Walker told the Daily Press he landed a job with Exquadrum at last month’s Manufacturers Job Fair at the High Desert Event Center in Victorville.

“I’m very thankful for the opportunity to use my skills and experience in a field that I’m used to,” said Walker, a 45-year-old single father who spent 20 years in the Navy. “I’m just getting my feet wet, but I’m really looking forward to my new job.”

Walker told the Daily Press much of his military experience included working on fighter aircraft such as the “launchers and weapons” of the F/A-18 Hornet twin-engine supersonic, all-weather carrier-capable multirole combat jet.

“I’ll be handling rocket motors, liquid propellant, compressed gas and hazardous wastes,” Walker said. “I’ll also work with gas cylinders and various components at Exquadrum.”

Eric Schmidt, co-owner of Exquadrum in Adelanto, an aerospace and defense contractor, said it was “a major blessing” to hire Walker, who has “much needed munitions handling skills.”

“I love this guy. He served our country and his skill set is finally being utilized,” Schmidt said. “Everything the country has invested in him is coming back and being used in the private sector. It’s a major win-win situation and hiring him just before Thanksgiving just makes the situation that much sweeter.”

Schmidt said he attended the second annual Made in the High Desert Manufacturing event hosted by 1st District Supervisor Robert Lovingood’s office last month where he and nearly 20 local manufacturers met with hundreds of students in grades 5-12.

“I couldn’t attend the second day of the event where it was strictly manufacturers meeting with prescreened applicants,” Schmidt said. “I told one of my guys to be on the lookout for someone who was a munitions technician. We didn’t see a lot of people that day, but William was our third visitor.”

Walker, who grew up in Kern Valley and was involved in Operation Desert Storm and several other military campaigns, said his resume included the words “munitions technician,” but it did not highlight his vast experience in the field.

According to Lovingood, Walker is now making approximately $50,000, something the veteran calls a far cry from “the peanuts” he made with other jobs.

Walker said his 15-year old-daughter, Kamaryn, is excited about her father’s new job and is looking forward to buying new clothes and shoes.

“Well-paying manufacturing jobs are essential to our economy,” Lovingood said. “It’s gratifying to help connect job-seekers with local companies. The day before the job fair, approximately 600 local students learned about the manufacturing business, possible career opportunities and the training required to secure jobs.”

Schmidt told the Daily Press the hiring of Walker is just another item that he’s placed on his list of “things to be thankful for this holiday season.”

“The job came at a pretty good time and I’m very thankful that Exquadrum hired me,” Walker said. “Our life has definitely changed.”

Rene Ray De La Cruz may be reached at 760-951-6227, RDeLa or on Twitter @DP_ReneDeLaCruz.

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