A patriot is defined as a person who loves and strongly supports, or fights for, their country and its interests. In America, some of the best patriot examples can be found in the veteran community. These amazing people stood up, volunteered, and took an oath to do the nation’s bidding around the world — even if it meant putting themselves in harms way.
To honor them this Veterans Day, we wanted to highlight some of the top attributes that make them so great!
Veterans get the job done, no matter what. They have an uncanny ability to ‘MacGyver’ any situation as necessary to reach a goal. They can quickly adapt and overcome even the most difficult situations; no matter how often things change. Even if team spirits are down, they persistently push to complete the mission.
Veterans have a sense of humor. They may have jargon-filled language and an offbeat sense of humor that civilians might struggle to understand at first, but they bring levity to any situation. Whether through combat or everyday military operations, it’s common for Veterans to acquire a quick wit and a playful sense of humor. For some, it’s a way to disconnect from tense moments or tragic events experienced. For others it’s a learned trait formed through bonding…whether they’ve suffered together through the basic procedures of boot camp or the advanced dangers of the battlefield, they understand that laughter makes hard times easier.
Veterans have the best stories, often starting with “one time, my buddies and I were…” Whether they toured exotic countries with their military friends or were stationed in the backyard of their home state, Veterans usually have a couple astounding stories about their time in service. The unique stories can cover topics like being lost in a foreign land and barely making it back in time for muster, finding ways to manage to amuse themselves during long deployments, or averting near disasters.
Veterans embrace diversity and accept brothers and sisters in arms from all walks of life. Veterans know they have, and are, fighting for the freedom and protection of every person in our great nation regardless of their cultures, ethnicities, and histories, and they respect anyone that has volunteered to do the same. They see strength in people’s differences, but more importantly they see a person’s character above all else.
Veterans know when to lead a group and when to follow. They can see when a situation needs a leader to step up, and they won’t shy away from the associated challenges of that position. As important, they recognize when being a follower would be more beneficial to a team’s success — allowing others to lead for the greater good. They have been ingrained with a mentality of leading by example, regardless of role.
Veterans believe in freedom and justice for all, and stand up for those ideals. It has been said, “A Veteran – whether active duty, retired, national guard, or reserve – is someone who, at one point in their life, wrote a blank check made payable to The ‘United States of America’, for an amount of ‘up to and including their life.” This short statement is a great summary of the sacrifice Veterans are willing to make toward all Americans being created equal to pursue their unalienable Rights of Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.
And we couldn’t be more grateful for the Veterans in our lives.
So with our deepest, most sincere appreciation, we’d like to tell all of our Veterans, “THANK YOU!”
As the U.S. Navy develops the fleet of the future, the Surface Force continues to increase combat readiness by harnessing new ships, weapon systems and emerging technologies. They also continue to build upon their long-standing relationship with the U.S. Marine Corps to project power ashore in a broad spectrum of missions.
On October 28th, five of the seven Marine Corps F-35B Lightning II aircraft scheduled to embark on board the amphibious assault ship USS America (LHA 6) arrived to begin some of the final shipboard testing events needed before F-35B detachments can begin operational integration. Moving forward, two of the F-35B aircraft are scheduled to begin the third shipboard phase of developmental tests to evaluate F-35B Short Take-off Vertical Landing (STOVL) operations in a high-sea state, shipboard landings, and night operations, while the other five aircraft are slated to conduct routine operational testing.
Sailors and Marines, along with embarked civilians and contractors, will execute these comprehensive series of tests in order to provide Marine aviation personnel with more data and insight into how the F-35B will operate from the decks of amphibious ships. Some tests will simulate extensive shipboard aircraft maintenance, while others will help establish the boundaries of safe operation for the F-35B outfitted with a 3F software configuration. As significant, they will also focus on preparing maintenance crews and pilots for their upcoming first operational deployment of the F-35B aboard USS Wasp (LHD 1).
These tests are important in providing the Navy-Marine Corps team more at sea opportunities to refine the range of requirements needed to safely and effectively manage the emerging requirements associated with integration of technologically advanced STOVL aircraft.
The F-35B is a great fit for amphibious operations, where the desired effect is to rapidly launch Marine Corps power into harsh shore environments, based on several unique design features. The aircraft has STOVL abilities coupled with a designed intended to reduce the ability of enemy defense systems or aircraft to detect or engage with weapons because of the aircraft’s Very Low Observable (VLO) stealth capability. As well as the ability to share real-time (networked) access with commanders at sea, in the air or on the ground to give U.S. and coalition partners a view of ongoing operations and battlefield information.
Amphibious Assault Ships also feature aviation-centric ship design that includes an enlarged hangar deck, larger aviation maintenance spaces, a significant increase in parts and equipment storage space, and an increased aviation fuel capacity. But even the first-in-class USS America had to undergo extensive upgrades to the flight deck, interior spaces, and combat systems, to better accommodate the fifth generation fighter aircraft.
As the F-35B comes to the surface fleet the partnership between the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps Air Combat Elements is sure to continue to strengthen as we work together to maintain maritime superiority and exert sea control in an evolving global landscape.
There is a saying, “true courage is being scared but moving forward despite it.” Many military service members push through moments of fear to accomplish the mission at hand. A prestigious few earn the Medal of Honor award for their brave actions taken in the face of grave danger.
The U.S. Navy’s Surface Fleet currently operates 19 warships named for Medal of Honor recipients. The total will be growing in the near future as nine new vessels honoring Medal of Honor recipients join the fleet. Today we recognize three of the planned additions: the future USS Thomas Hudner, the future USS John Finn, and the future USS Inouye.
The future USS Thomas Hudner (DDG 116) honors Navy Lieutenant Junior Grade Thomas Jerome Hudner Jr. On Dec. 4, 1950, he purposely crashed his plane into an enemy infested area near the Chosin River in an attempt to reach and rescue a fellow U.S. Navy aviator trapped alive in his shot down, burning aircraft. Despite knowing there would be little chance of escaping the enemy, or surviving in the cold of the snowy mountain, Hudner braved a rescue anyway. He even called for a helicopter to assist with the failed rescue attempt; the other downed pilot would ultimately meet his demise from wounds suffered in the crash.
The future USS John Finn (DDG 113) honors Navy Lieutenant John William Finn. He was awarded the Medal of Honor for steadfastly manning a machine gun during the incoming Japanese attack at Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii. Despite being wounded multiple times, Finn continued to man the open position in the face of heavy machine gun strafing fire from enemy aircraft. He only relinquished weapon control after being ordered to report to a medical facility for treatment of his wounds. Finn would soon return to the squadron and supervise the rearming of returning U.S. military planes.
The future USS Daniel Inouye (DDG 118) honors U.S. Army 2nd Lieutenant Daniel K. Inouye. In the vicinity of San Terenzo, Italy, Inouye swiftly directed his platoon through automatic and small arms fire during an attack to capture an artillery and mortar post on April 21, 1945. The team got within 40 yards of the enemy when crossfire stopped the advance. Inouye then crawled within five yards of an enemy machine gun nest and lobbed in two grenades, destroying the emplacement. He then lunged upright and neutralized a second enemy machine gun post. Inouye was wounded by a sniper’s bullet and an exploding grenade shattered his right arm. Despite the wounds, he kept fighting and directing his platoon until they were capable of establishing new defensive positions. Their advance was instrumental in capturing the ridge. Inouye went on to become a long serving senator for the state of Hawaii.
In the face of overwhelming odds and split second life-and-death decisions, these Medal of Honor recipients risked their lives for the safety of their comrades and their nation. Indeed, they looked fear in the eye and charged on despite it. We shall always gratefully remember them for it and look forward to having their namesake ships join the Surface Fleet.
This series will return in a few weeks as the Surface Navy recognizes more Medal of Honor namesakes that will join the fleet. Until then please visit our blog weekly to enjoy other great topics surrounding our U.S. Navy’s Surface Forces.
SUEZ CANAL (June 29, 2016) Ensign Susan Funk, assigned to the guided-missile destroyer USS Mason (DDG 87), verifies a ship’s bearing while transiting the Suez Canal. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communications Specialist 3rd Class Janweb B. Lagazo/Released)
It takes top performing division officers to build top performing mid-grade and senior officers – especially those who will command at sea. But in today’s extremely competitive, globally connected world, organizations from all industries are fighting a “war for talent” as they strive to attract – and keep – the best. I am proud to say the same is true in the Surface Warfare community. We need high performing division officers who are committed to becoming top performing department heads and commanding officers, and that improves not only the surface community, but also the Navy as a whole. To that end, I have challenged our community to think differently about how we can attract and retain our very best, and I am extremely pleased with the innovative ways we are retaining and rewarding our top performers.
PACIFIC OCEAN (Sept. 26, 2016) – Lt. Serg Samndzic and Lt. Aaron Jochimsen, Warfare Tactics Instructors (WTI) of the Naval Surface and Mine Warfighting Development Center (SMWDC) coordinate missile exercise rehearsals on the USS Princeton during an anti-submarine exercise in the Southern California operating area. (U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Trevor Andersen/Released)
But in some ways, this effort isn’t new. In fact, the Departartment Head Retention Bonus (DHRB) marks the latest chapter in a nearly 20-year process of striving to develop a system that rewards the right people at the right time. This process first began with the Surface Warfare Officer Continuation Pay (SWOCP) bonus, which had the simple objective of retaining division officers through the completion of two department head tours. The next evolution was the Revised Junior Critical Skills Retention Bonus (RJCSRB) – a major bonus overhaul that added more money and was designed to retain the critical skills of our junior officers. As a result, we’ve been able to consistently meet our department head requirements, enabling screening boards to be more selective.
We have found a way to not only measure superior performance at sea, but also a method to reward that performance and retain top performers. Bottom line, the bonus is bigger than just getting division officers to stick around as department heads. It’s about retaining our best so that they can one day help us lead the Navy!
To do this, we have created a program similar to the performance bonuses used by many civilian corporations to reward and retain top talent. This performance-based bonus is a first of its kind for the Department of Defense and not only pays for a skillset, but also rewards officers with extra incentive payments – up to $30,000 – based on fleet performance that results in first or second look selection at the department head screening board.
This tiered incentive program ensures those who screen for advancement to department head at the earliest career opportunity (their first look usually occurs after reaching three years of commissioned service) are eligible to receive three extra payments of $10,000 a year for an ultimate total bonus of $105,000. Officers screening on their second look will receive two incentive payments of $10,000 each in addition to the standard bonus of $75,000 for a bonus totaling $95,000. Those screening a year later on their third look will receive a standard base bonus of $75,000.
ATLANTIC OCEAN (Sept. 24, 2015) Cmdr. Gilbert Clark, executive officer of the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS The Sullivans (DDG 68), directs Ensign Christian Diaz as he monitors the course indicator during a replenishment-at-sea training exercise. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Daniel Gaither/Released)
We’re investing in the junior officers who spend months deployed across the globe and those who are permanently forward deployed. We’re investing in those officers who excel at leading Sailors, tirelessly stand the watch, and spend countless hours preparing their ships for deployment. These bonuses allow us to signal the value of superior performance from our junior officers as they move into the role of department head, and continue on to billets as commanding officers, major commanders, and flag officers.
DHRB is transformational in a way that benefits our 21st century Navy . But make no mistake, this bonus is bigger than just the division officers and our department heads who receive it. This bonus is about creating an environment where our top talent remains in the Surface Navy. Because when our top officers continue to serve, these high performers make every ship in our force better .
There has never been a better time to stay SWO!
This blog first appeared at Navy Live, the official blog of the U.S. Navy.
When it comes to commissioning ships, October has been a busy month for the U.S. Navy, particularly for the Surface Force. This month the Surface Navy has already welcomed one new warship, USS John P. Murtha (LPD 26), into the fleet and tomorrow, the Navy’s largest, most technologically advanced destroyer, USS Zumwalt (DDG 1000), will be commissioned.
But long before a ship is ready to be commissioned it must be built and outfitted, tested and evaluated, and the crew must learn the ship’s systems. Along the way the ship passes through a series of traditional maritime milestones, qualifications and certifications.
It all begins with a keel laying ceremony. This event represents the formal beginning of the ship and typically recognizes the first joining together of ship components. With the keel laying the ship is officially under construction. After the ship is built it will be christened and launched, both of which usually happen during the same ceremony when the ship is christened with a name and introduced into the water for the first time. Following that, the ship goes through a period of “fitting out” in which important ship’s systems are installed, tested, and evaluated. That process alone often takes about two years.
During fitting out numerous systems and equipment are installed and the vessel is transformed into a habitable warship. Systems for spaces like the galley and engineering plant, along with weapon and electronic systems throughout the ship are installed and tested. The ship also undergoes sea trials to ensure everything works as designed while giving the crew an opportunity to get to learn the intricacies of their new warship.
Before hitting the ultimate milestone—commissioning—the vessel and crew are often referred to as a Pre-Commissioning Unit (PCU) but they’ll change to United States Ship (USS) during the commissioning ceremony. At that point, the crew will be told by the ship’s sponsor to “Bring this ship to life,” which is when ship’s company leave their formation and run to cross the ship’s brow to man the ship and turn on the systems.
Although October has been busy time, each new ship that joins the fleet, like USS John P. Murtha, the future USS Zumwalt, and the future USS Detroit, serve to make our Navy and our Surface Force stronger and better prepared to do America’s work.
A little more than 72 years ago Allied Forces of World War II invaded northern France in an unprecedented amphibious assault on the Normandy coast. The brutally difficult, and nearly unsuccessful, beach landings known as D-Day would eventually become an international day of remembrance. Although the United States hasn’t had to project power in an amphibious landing of such magnitude since, our nation stays ready should the need arise.
Part of that poise includes maintaining an incredibly adaptable amphibious force made up of equipment and personnel from the U.S. Navy and U.S. Marine Corps. An element of the Naval Surface Force operations, this amphibious team includes a number of vessels known as the General Purpose Amphibious Assault Ships (LHA) and Wasp Class Multiple Purpose Amphibious Assault Ships (LHD). Designed to launch troops on enemy shores, our amphibious force, the largest and most capable amphibious force in the world, can readily access 75% of the world’s beaches.
Often referred to as “big deck amphibs” or “mini-aircraft carriers,” amphibious assault ships are the largest of all amphibious warfare ships, with LHDs being slightly bigger than LHAs. Both platforms are capable of launching and recovering aircraft in multiple ways. Their flight decks are designed to accommodate Vertical/Short Take-off and Landing (V/STOL), Short Take-Off Vertical Landing (STOVL), Vertical Take-Off and Landing (VTOL) tilt-rotor and Rotary Wing (RW) aircraft operations. Unique amongst the amphibious assault ships, USS America (LHA 6) and the future USS Tripoli (LHA 7) do not feature well decks – a space near the waterline historically used to move large volumes of heavy equipment.
These LHAs are somewhat more similar to aircraft carriers because they’re designed to be aviation-centric in power projection. More specifically, they’ve been tailored to accommodate Marine Corps Air Combat Elements including the F-35B Joint Strike Fighter and MV-22 Osprey. They include an enlarged hangar deck, enhanced aviation maintenance facilities, increased aviation fuel capacity, additional aviation storerooms, and an electronically reconfigurable Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (C4ISR) suite. Although its name has yet to be announced, the future LHA 8 will reincorporate a well deck. Moving forward, well decks are planned for all future LHAs and LHDs to support the use of Landing Craft, Air Cushioned (LCAC) and other watercraft vehicles, which will provide increased operational flexibility.
Despite these differences both the LHA and LHD platforms share a similar purpose. They help project power and maintain presence through their place in Amphibious Readiness Groups and Expeditionary Strike Groups. They’re used to transport and land elements of Marine Expeditionary Units or Marine Expeditionary Brigades. Troops can be moved from ship-to-shore through a combination of aircraft and landing craft to provide a rapid buildup of combat power. The ships’ unique ability to get close to shore and transport a wide spectrum of equipment and troops in a highly efficient manner has also made them highly effective in support of humanitarian, disaster relief and other types of contingent operations.
From offering assistance to our own country or a partner nation abroad, to protecting and defending democracy, our amphibious force stands ready, willing, and able to do the nation’s work.
Please check back for future installments to learn more about the different types of ships that comprise the U.S. Navy Surface Fleet.
Guest Blog By: Lt. Brianna Frazier, Amphibious Warfare Tactics Instructor
I’ve always had an interest in Amphibious Warfare- it’s so dynamic and interdependent. It’s arguably the most complex warfare area in the U.S. Navy due to the work it requires with both our Sailors and Marines. When I heard about the Amphibious Warfare Tactics Instructor (WTI) program, I didn’t hesitate to apply. I wanted to be a part of something new and was excited for the opportunity to specialize in a field that I’m passionate about. I graduated from the Naval Surface and Mine Warfighting Development Center’s (SMWDC) first Amphibious WTI class in Little Creek, Virginia, May 26, 2016.
As a WTI, I provide warfare doctrinal guidance and mentorship to underway watch teams during amphibious operations. I also provide guidance during Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) and Marine Expeditionary Unit work up cycles, and provide feedback during doctrinal reviews to help ensure all amphibious warfare doctrines remain current and relevant. However, I had no idea just how soon my new skillset would be battle tested at sea in a major Navy exercise.
My first post-graduation event, exercise Bold Alligator 2016 (BA16) ran from August 15 to August 25 and the mission was primarily to train Expeditionary Strike Group Two (ESG-2) and the Second Marine Expeditionary Brigade (2MEB). I acted as Battle Watch Captain aboard USS Bataan (LHD 5) and led a team of watch standers in flag plot, ship-to-shore evolutions, enemy air and surface engagements, and small boat escorts to protect Sailors and Marines at sea and ashore. The Battle Watch Captain is a tactical watch station that functions as the representative for the Composite Warfare Commander of the ARG. This position has direct access to the admiral and acts on their behalf for permissions and orders regarding all warfare areas under the admiral’s purview. It was intense and intimidating at first. However, I was well received as the subject matter expert by both the staff of ESG-2 and the crew of Bataan. Whether in my role as Battle Watch Captain, or during my time off the watch floor as a tactical mentor, the Sailors and Marines on board were open to my guidance and suggestions.
I’m humbled that the Navy chose me as the junior level go-to person for amphibious doctrine and tactics in BA16 and I’m proud to see Navy leadership welcoming WTI graduates into the fold. In fact, WTIs are now in high demand throughout the fleet – everybody wants one on their ship to help raise the tactical proficiency of their unit and their Sailors. While there are currently only 9 of us Amphibious WTIs, 12 more are set to graduate from SMWDC next month. I’m confident that as the WTI program grows, we’ll be able to provide a service to the amphibious fleet unlike any that has existed before. Junior Surface Warfare Officers are laying the framework for the future of the Amphibious Navy — thanks to SMWDC’s cultural reinvestment in tactics, training, doctrine and people.