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March 21, 2012 / iDriveWarships

Benfold Visits Mexico

On March 15, guided-missile destroyer USS Benfold (DDG 65) arrived in La Paz, Mexico for a port visit, which turned out to be much more than a break from sea.

Even though their visit was official and they engaged in the formal rituals of greetings and handshakes undertaken by generations of Sailors, there was an instant connection and feeling of friendship between the Mexican officers and Benfold’s leaders.

Mexican Navy Adm. Anselmo Diaz Cid, commander of the second naval zone, as well as other admirals and dignitaries were given a tour of Benfold, including its new Integrated Bridge and Engineering Plant.

Benfold’s Executive Officer, Cmdr. Rich LeBron, a native Spanish speaker, served as the interpreter for their meeting.

“The meeting was very enjoyable,” said LeBron. “Our conversation ranged from advice about the best restaurants in town to where the best scuba spots were. As the meeting progressed, the conversation turned to a more serious subject—the integration of women onto combat ships.”

LeBron and Benfold’s Commanding Officer, Cmdr. Dave Oden, were pleased with the opportunity to share their insights in regards to women in the military and, more specifically, about women on warships.

When asked how it was implemented in the U.S. Navy, Oden said the decision was an easy one.

“Some of my best officers and Sailors are women,” said Oden “and their contributions to our readiness and mission cannot be overstated.”

To better show the Admiral and his staff firsthand how well women are integrated into the U.S. Navy, they were invited on board to see the harmony of young men and women working together in an environment defined by mutual respect and support.

“If there was one message above all others that the Captain and I wanted to share with them,” said LeBron, “it’s that when leaders can create a work environment where performance and character matter more than gender and bias—talent pools are accessed in ways that would otherwise be simply impossible.”

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