Putting your heart where your crow used to be

Anybody who wears their feelings on their sleeve and has a harder, crusty shell – like I do – is definitely protecting an inner sensitivity.

Fred Durst, rapper, actor, musician (Limp Bizkit)

It has been more than twenty years since I was a crewman aboard a Navy ship putting to sea. With nearly eight and half years of sea time, all but several months of which was continually away from homeport, I relished having that connection to loved ones that the mail might bring. Where an actual package might take a month to be delivered, letters normally took half that time. And when email became possible, it seemed like those were almost instantaneous messages and response. Even during a busy OPTEMPO, Sailors need that connection to be reminded that what they are doing is important and that people back home have them in mind. We used to call articles shipped from home CARE packages. Moms or wives, or girlfriends (and now husbands, boyfriends and family) sent letters, cookies, magazines, and other mementos to their loved one afloat halfway around the world.

As former shipmates know, deployments and remote duty assignments can negatively influence marriages, relationships and personal conduct. Home life as a single parent is difficult without preplanning and a support network; many young marriages are tested by months of separation, and relocation every few years to different states or even countries. Sometimes poor decisions at home, or while on deployment causes emotional and financial distress. Away from one’s family or church, personal accountability is challenged. Working and living 24 hours a day among those who may believe playing “hard” is as important as working “hard”, personal accountability is tested (“poured into” one’s rack after drinking all day with your Liberty buddies, is overlooked once or twice by your leadership, but can be career-limiting as well as unhealthy). It is for that reason that connection with one of those families or young servicemembers, having walked myself in those boondockers, is so important to me.

The idea to continuing to serve our active duty men and women while they are away from home is not new. Legion and VFW halls, and USOs have done that for a century. But what eats at me is what am I doing to help encourage others? It is fairly easy to be someone who says they support such n such. And if someone says they are a supporter, do they provide some form of material support? A donor to a cause is needed, but asks little of that person. Putting additional “skin in the game”, is the one who participates in some activity, whether writing a letter, making a phone call, or taking a CARE package to the post office and mailing it. And then there is the one who is spurred to coordinate these efforts, obtaining the names of those service members your group or organization wants to help. Like the Chief, a job needs doing, and it is the Chief who sees it through. Sometimes your sweat, tears, and time makes it seem little is being accomplished. And yet there are those who will remember how there were people who helped make the separation – deployment – bearable. Being a Chief looking after the well-being of ‘your’ people never changes whether on Active Duty or retired for more than a decade. For the last couple decades, it is the members of my church family, neighbors, friends and former co-workers I have kept in my heart. Wearing my heart on my sleeve, though I no longer have khakis or dress uniform is still to help those serving today.

Ask the Chief: Mop-N-Glo memories

I do not recall Sailors or Marines scrubbing, polishing or sweeping (on hands and knees) featured in recruiting or Hollywood military movies. But cleaning living quarters with keen eye to removing specks of dust or a random human hair helped turned generations of civilians into military personnel. Being a just-promoted Navy seaman (or fireman or airman) apprentice (E-2) or seaman (E-3) attending a Navy “Class A” fundamentals school, the officer and enlisted managers of the schools and the barracks ran them as an extension of recruit training. These school managers were fastidious in weekly inspections of barracks rooms and our uniforms; we grumbled among ourselves to prefer being sent straight to the “Fleet”.


“A School” was just as much about learning Navy “life hacks” as it was about acquiring one’s trade fundamentals. And acquiring a perspective how to work “smarter, instead of harder”. After the first or second inspection, we would seek out the ‘skinny’ to obtain best result with the minimum output of effort. For dress uniform inspections, we learned of a local shop that specialized in neckerchief rolling, or ribbon-mounting (having only one, a National Defense ribbon as a recent enlistee, the shop catered primarily to senior military enlisted and officers). Though we had some who proudly shined their leather shoes to perfection, most of us purchased Corframs, patent-leather shoes as soon as we could.

It was some of our “Fleet returnees”, sailors and Marines returning for formal training, who gave us techniques to dazzle the inspectors. We learned quickly. Knowing that even a “spotless” room might receive an arbitrary review for “uneven” sheen using the Navy-standard floor wax and electric floor buffer, the secret these “salty” E-4s and E-5s passed us, involved the use of an acrylic liquid wax like Mop-N-Glo. Both techniques required ‘elbow grease’ and an absolutely clean, cleanser-free, surface. But the latter was applied with sponges. As the acrylic would be as easily marred by shoe scuffs, we all agreed to walk in our socks once inside the doorway.

Sometimes we might make two consecutive inspections before having to deep clean and reapply acrylic. As we learned later, many of the school staff would be more diligent when inspecting a barracks room that had a “Fleet returnee” in it. These were the first of many ‘life hacks’ I would acquire as a result of military experiences. Though I have not used a buffer nor Mop-N-Glo in 30 years, memories return when I visit a home where the resident has a sign requesting shoes to be left at the doorway. And if I have an appointment at an office building or military base, the sheen on the floor triggers silent appreciation for the “buffer technician”.

civilizations, past and present owe sailors a debt

As a Christmas gift, one of our sons gave me a book, The Sea & Civilization: a Maritime History of the World, (2013) by Lincoln Paine. I have always been interested in history, and yet I never had a concise history describing the rise of civilizations around the globe. From Lincoln Paine’s Introduction and into the first chapter, Sailors have played a major role in enabling the rise of cultures across Oceania (across the Pacific Ocean), North and South America, and the Caribbean islands, and elsewhere. For most of us, the history we were taught, particularly in North America and western Europe, focused solely on how Europeans explored the world, encountering mostly primitive peoples. In recent decades, new research into those explorers who chronicled their voyages, and new archaeological discoveries reveal that people thousands of years earlier than either Greeks or western Europeans had fairly advanced maritime cultures, navigated great distances and established wide trade networks. I will repost with observations of what was learned that challenges my previous notions in maritime history.

Perhaps as my readers encounter well written and thoughtful books of interest to the Maritime-minded, you will take the opportunity to share these with me and others. I hope to develop a reading list early this year on maritime history, leadership, storytelling, boatbuilding, science, and biographies of some notable men and women who have dared to put to sea and returned victorious.

Why have a Preventative Maintenance System?

CINCHOUSE (for those unfamiliar with military acronyms, this means Commander-In-Chief, House), otherwise known as my wife, has been very gracious throughout the last 72 hours without the use of a tactically significant piece of home equipment: our clothes dryer. After many thousands of loads over the last 7 or 8 years, the dryer failed to turn on, and I was asked to perform corrective maintenance. I am the command Maintenance Chief as well as the Supply Chief, which can range from scheduling a Maintenance Availability with a contractor, or restoring operation myself with the assistance of Amazon or other parts supplier. Without a backup system onsite, the Laundry Officer took the towels to a laundromat the first night.

Troubleshooting: Fault analysis & Symptom Elaboration

The process was fairly straightforward even without having a repair manual or parts list on hand. After three decades expertise, proper tools and following normal safety precautions, I expected to have the unit fixed. I was able to retrieve a parts list, and have the most likely replacement part shipped to me. It arrived this morning. Fortunately, I did not need the EMO’s signature on a tag-out log, but disconnected the dryer plug from the 240VAC line.

Upon disassembly to gain access to the electrical part, the first thing I noted was gundecked PMS. A Preventative Maintenance System is only effective in maintaining equipment at optimum working efficiency when followed precisely. That, of course was my problem. The electric dryer was not on any schedule for periodic maintenance and only received cursory vacuuming every few months by the MATMAN, when he remembered. With the thousands of hours of use in the last decade, the vent /lint trap port within the system and the exhaust to vent the dryer resembled the clogged arteries of a hear attack victim – with dust, dirt, hair, coins and even a man’s ring (!) almost completely clogging it.

There is a time when the OPTEMPO is such that waiting for a repair contractor, that the priority becomes replacement and not repair. After following online instructions, I was no closer to determining the broken component. Fortunately, the Supply Officer, my wife, and whom incidentally, is the Immediate Senior in Command, approved the purchase order for a new dryer. It gets delivered the day after Christmas. But the more serious issue is the ignored PMS. Were it not for the reasons that the dryer was never added to the Equipment List, and there was no PMS card detailing scheduled maintenance, the responsible Sailor should have scheduled, at a minimum, annual maintenance with a civilian contractor. As both the Maintenance and Training Senior Chief, I need to review, or create, a program for the new dryer that was ordered for delivery on Monday. It may be the end of year “holiday routine” but like military operations, washing and drying clothes and towels occurs 365 days a year.

The reasons for having a Preventative Maintenance System, or PMS, for equipment and systems that are relied upon for national defense is actually one of common sense. OPNAV Instruction series 4700.7() provides the guidance for all Navy systems maintenance. Up through the new millennium, paper schedules and “hard card” maintenance requirements were used by all Surface,Air, Shore, and Submarine forces. During the past two decades, online software, such as SKED (2022) has replaced the system the author used during his days as a “blueshirt”.

Military systems are designed generally for harsh conditions and use occurring in combat. While some are specific to the equipment operating environment, dust, dirt and other particles are generally everywhere. Aboard ship, a closed system like a ship at sea, with dozens or thousands of human beings aboard create a lot of dust, hair, dander that must be removed every few hours. The same can be said for residential living.

*gundecked – Navy slang for falsified or sloppily performed, which the responsible party, when identified, receives punitive measures to prevent a recurrence.

These illustrations were originally published on navyaviation.tpub.com

the storytelling of art

In middle school, the subject of history was neither dry nor boring as I spent a few years living in New England and for a time in a pre-French & Indian Wars-era colonial home. Browsing through antique shops and flea markets in the 1970s, my family had a penchant for collecting random things that were interesting. Whether it was sifting through dirt to recover old medicine bottles and inkwells, engaging with an old Scout master (one of the founders of Scouting in New England) who started me collecting postage stamps, or discussing for hours, gems and minerals an older lady had retrieved on her travels (she started my interest in rocks and minerals), each had engaged me with stories. Years listening to my grandmother and great aunts family history, seeing some of their heirlooms, and then having the opportunity to see actual records, that matched their stories, and visit the places they described added context. In the Navy, I deployed all over the world. But as the years pass turn into decades, from time to time it is valuable (to aid my recollection) to look at them again.

  • A painting my late mother had hanging in our home for fifty years is signed by a Parisian artist
  • A lithograph signed by (living) artist my wife and I visited on a date to Laguna Beach – we do not go on more dates to his studio as a result
  • An early Twentieth Century Bentwood rocker from the New England studio home (it had briefly been my childhood home) of a Nineteeth Century muralist
  • A vase that belonged to my maternal grandmother’s grandmother has been carefully stored for forty years
  • A button from a Naples maritime officer I chatted with during a port visit 30 years ago
  • Bulgarian currency from our visit on the Black Sea- a first US vessel to visit since before the Cold War
  • uncirculated postage stamps representing the chaplains who sacrificed themselves for others to survive during WWII
  • original Navy ballcap issued to me in 1991. My first ship, I deployed to Central, South America and Canada. it was decommissioned two years later
  • A Russian nesting doll from the Soviet era

Ask the Chief: if it didn’t come in your seabag you won’t need it

I still remember a young sailor reporting aboard our ship who had been in the Navy about six months. A member assigned to our division, he was assigned a bunk in our berthing compartment. Aboard any vessel, but particularly a warship, space is at a premium and quarters for the crew are no exception. In the Navy, a crewmember has a very limited amount of space in which to store his or her belongings, and are designed to hold the contents of one’s seabag plus a small amount of toiletries we fit into a “ditty bag”. In this compartment, the three tiered bunks (“racks”) doubled also as lockers for each member’s gear. There were exactly the same ratio of racks to crew in every compartment aboard ship. (Only the Executive Officer, Commanding Officer and any visiting Flag Officer or dignitary had individual quarters.)

It was the second or perhaps, third garment bag he started to unpack, in addition to his seabag’s contents that drew the loudest “WTF!” from his immediate supervisor getting him settled in the berthing, No less than three color-coordinated suits – 1 green, 1 red and 1 yellow, came out of those garment bags. That he assumed that he would store them in adjacent lockers became a training opportunity. Thirty years ago, we were not as progressive in our attitude nor counseling methods as in 2022; in hindsight, we might not today be forgiven for thinking Gary (Indiana) was missing a pimp. He was advised to remove from the ship every item of civilian clothing that did not fit in his own bunk, after having stowed everything prescribed by Navy regulations for shipboard use.

Not that he was the only person to have belongings in excess of places to put them. Officers, Chiefs and blueshirts (junior enlisted sailors) having accumulated a few bulky items (Turkish and Persian rugs) when on liberty overseas, were known to conduct a lot of horsetrading with Supply, Medical, cooks, and Engineering peers to find cubbyholes when returning to the USA from deployment to the Mediterranean and Suez.


From the current Uniform Requirements for Men, in Paygrades E-1 to E-6, the following items are issued as regular uniform items and when precisely folded, will fit within a standard issue seabag. Some of the items are rank and other insignia which are affixed to uniforms in a prescribed manner. :

  • All-Weather Coat, Blue 1
  • Bag, Duffel 1
  • Belt, Web, Black, W/Silver Clip 2
  • Belt, Web, White, W/Silver Clip 1
  • Blousing, Straps 2
  • Boots, 9″ 1
  • Buckle, Silver 2
  • Cap, Ball 2
  • Cap, Garrison 1
  • Cap, Knit 1
  • Cap, 8-Point, with ACE logo 2
  • Cold Weather Parka 1
  • Coveralls (Navy), Blue 1
  • Gloves, Leather, Black 1 pr.
  • Group Rate Mark, Black 1
  • Group Rate Mark, White 1
  • Hat, White 2
  • Insignia, NWU (E4 – E6) 1
  • Insignia, Service Uniform Collar (E2 – E6) 1
  • Jumper, Blue Dress 1
  • Jumper, White Dress 1
  • Liner, Fleece 1
  • Mock “T” Neck 1
  • Neckerchief 1
  • Parka, NWU 1
  • Peacoat 1
  • Shirt, Khaki 2
  • Shirt, NWU 3
  • Shirt, PTU 2
  • Shoes, Athletic 1 pr.
  • Shoes, Dress Black 1 pr.
  • Shorts, PTU 2
  • Socks, Cotton/Nylon, Black 3 pr.
  • Socks, Cushion Sole, Boots 5
  • Towel, Bath1 4
  • Trouser, Broadfall, Blue 1 pr.
  • Trousers, NWU 3 pr.
  • Trousers, Poly/Wool, SU 1 pr.
  • Trousers, White Jumper 1 pr.
  • Undergarments As Needed
  • Undershirts, White 4
  • Undershirts, Brown 4

To my shame, now retired a dozen years, and more than fifteen since I last got underway on a Navy warship, I no longer practice the rigorous methods to stow my belongings. Then, neither do I have to stencil my clothes and underwear with my last name so they will return to the rightful owner from the laundry.

Disney veterans

Taking responsibility for those under my authority is a natural inclination for a career military man. When my grandchild’s bag of snacks crushed and spilled onto the gift shop floor at Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge, having nothing else available I started to scoop it up with my hands. My wife helped me. The castmember was taken aback. “I’ve called custodial”, the employee told us.

An “old Navy habit,” I said. “I’ve cleaned up a lot of things just with my hands.”

The woman extended her hand. “Army veteran.” As the young custodian swept the remaining dust, she continued, “We don’t get a lot of this. Most just walk away.” We thanked each other for serving, and as we parted I asked how she liked working at Disney. “A lot like the Army. Very disciplined.”

Port o’ call: Manta Ecuador

A periodic cleaning of closets and garage allows me to reminisce over photographs and memorabilia of travels while I was in the Navy. In the 1990s, deployment aboard the USS TEXAS (CGN39) and later, USS PETERSON (DD969), gave me opportunities to use Spanish, French and Russian I learned in school in the prior decade. However, it was Spanish that gave me some “street cred” with my shipmates when we visited Central and South America. Though deployments from West Coast bases or East Coast bases tend to visit the same ports, my opportunity to visit Ecuador twice, was as result of being aboard these two ships. The USS TEXAS was a cruiser based out of Alameda, California, and the USS PETERSON was based out of Norfolk, Virginia.

Looking at some images, it does seem incredible that thirty years has passed since I made the first of four Navy transits of the Panama Canal. On the way to Ecuador, I became a Shellback, in a ceremony while crossing the equator just east of the Galapagos Islands. Though the Manta I recall is likely to have changed – this image from Pinterest suggests it is more brightly lit, I wonder what an orphanage we served – entertaining kids, bringing skateboards and games, is like in 2022? I do imagine that the orphans have a much more modern – or well-painted facility. On my second visit, the nuns told me that the classroom I painted (two years earlier I painted a clown with balloons there) had seen several coats of paint from other ship visits!

Manta, Ecuador beachfront (date unk), from Pinterest
US Navy’s “Operation Handclasp” doesn’t clown around

Two people we encountered spoke English; one was a retired US Marine who moved there with his Ecuador-born wife, and a kid from New York City, who became our tour guide in Manta. We stopped for a cold Pepsi at a shop, and the kid -speaking English with a Brooklyn accent- greeted us. He was spending the summer with his uncle, the shop owner. While I spoke Spanish well enough to negotiate hotel accommodations at the beach and bargain with the street vendors, it was good to have a streetwise negotiator on hand. I think it was he who told me about carved tagua nut carvings and Panama hats being made in Manta. Thirty years later, I have thrown away or lost among the boxes of trinkets, a fishnet hammock, a “vegetable ivory” carved tarantula and a “Panama hat”.

Local boys making wicker items

Travel was always the biggest perk in the Navy, though as I learned from my travels, some world-travelers set foot on different continents by having a valuable skill and a sense for adventure. In Manta, there was a British man who was going around the world, using his Fisheries Science education to help with protecting and preserving the fishing industries in countries like New Zealand where he had last lived for a few years to Ecuador where he was now employing those skills. I imagine it was a little easier than traveling from hostel to hostel with a few dollars in ones pocket. That sort of vagabond life, at my age is a non-starter; and don’t get my wife started on bring a tent along.

Ask the Chief: guilt or innocence depends on whom the axe falls?

Arsonist. A disgruntled sailor. Traitor. These are the thoughts that went through my mind, as a Navy veteran, when I first heard of the sailor who allegedly set the USS Bon Homme Richard on fire. But the facts do not seem to bear this out in a military courtroom. A military judge presiding over that sailor’s courts-martial found him not guilty today. The Navy failed to prove that this seaman who had dropped out of SEAL training, and was assigned to the Deck Division on the BHR, was responsible for the fire.

Scuttlebutt seemed to suggest that he was guilty before trial, but scuttlebutt has been wrong about a lot of thing. Sadly, does it seem that the Navy, like many in the public, academia, government, and media, began with a plausible conclusion and proceeded to find evidence to support the conclusion. Could someone have stored flammable batteries or fuels inconsistent with current safety precautions? Did firefighting teams note which areas were not effectively protected with shipboard or pierside foam or pressurized ff mains? Did investigators focus on one suspect to the exclusion of more factors? It certainly is a lot tidier to find a young man guilty of the willful destruction of a warship, than to determine that crew training, shipyard planners, supervisory personnel, and the senior authority of the Naval District were derelict, or at best, naïve as to the level of preparedness military and civilian personnel had to respond to emergencies. What steps is the Navy taking to prevent such casualties in the future?

Ask the Chief: the “i” in Chief means “invested”

With the pinning of newly-selected Chief Petty Officers (CPOs) on October 21, 2022, these men and women will be expected to lead their division enlisted personnel in accord with 129 years of tradition and responsibility that comes with the uniform. Anywhere and at any time, a junior enlisted sailor -trying to find a personnel office or an Officer needing stores to be on-loaded, may see that uniform and have an expectation that the Chief will get the job done. While no CPO is assumed to have instantaneous knowledge of every given situation, it is well-known that the Mess can be counted upon to have its collective wisdom to impart.

During the weeks or months preceding the pinning ceremony for new CPOs, a period of training, team building and familiarization known as “Initiation” was a period of ritual, physical conditioning, and service to others. However, there were accusations over the years that some had been victimized by shenanigans that were not in keeping with Navy standards of conduct. Between the early 2000s and 2014, “Initiation” was no longer an authorized term for this training. But during the tenure of MCPON (Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy) West and then Stevens, the program was revamped to align with the core values of the Navy. Under MCPON Giordano, in 2017, “initiation” became an acceptable term again. In a 2021 letter distributed to leading Chief Petty Officers, then-MCPON Smith reiterated, “

“Command Senior Enlisted Leaders will ensure that all selectees are guided through the Teaching to the
Creed syllabus, as these sessions form the backbone of our training effort. Each of our selectees must
understand what is expected of them as a Chief Petty Officer, and leveraging our Creed as the primary focus will accomplish this goal. Additionally, a specific Culture of Excellence and Warrior Toughness training session will be conducted; training materials and instructions will be provided. Other training topics that have historically been included as “additional items” should be carefully weighed to determine the actual value they provide. Laying the Keel (May 2019) remains in effect and provides guidelines and a framework for a successful Initiation. The legacy CPO Selectee Leadership Course (CPO Indoctrination) is officially “sun-downed,” and a new CPO Leader Development Course will be launched next year as part of the Enlisted Leader Development continuum.
The focus of our season is “preparing” our newest Chiefs to enter the Mess, not screening them out….”

Among those who are actively participating as members of the Mess, this testifies to a sense of duty to foster future enlisted leaders that transcends a Chief Petty Officer’s current status (whether serving on Active Duty, in the Reserve, or as a retired “Old Goat”), community (Surface, Submariner, Aviation, etc.), or location (aboard a frigate, working on a Joint Base, or perhaps, a retired “Goat” who works with Reservists as a civilian manager in a local commercial company).

“I decided long ago to become a Chief Petty Officer, and waited until the uniform caught up”

– Senior Chief Petty Officer, Naval Reserve Center Phoenix **

investment is personal

Forty-five years ago, my career aspirations to become a member of this unique ‘salty’ fraternity (male and female) began while I was in a sort of limbo pending the outcome of a medical board deciding my re-enlistment eligibility. I had been assigned duties akin to Brig duty, monitoring misfit sailors in custody prior to being administratively discharged. The Senior Chief Petty Officer a prior Marine Gunnery Sergeant, gave me a “life talk” I still remember. I re-enlisted in the Navy several years later, and was at one point assigned to the Pentagon. There, a Master Chief would pull me aside to ask me what my plans were for a career and to give me suggestions how to proceed to reach them. Though it took nearly twenty more years, ship – and shore- assignments and transfer to the Reserve, I faithfully followed his advice.

Several outstanding Master Chief Petty Officers, who were respected civilian professionals out of uniform, were no less dedicated as Reservists. One after the other, the career and leadership capabilities of enlisted personnel, some recently promoted to Chief Petty Officer, were honed. The Global War on Terror saw many deployed to Afghanistan and Iraq, where some lead their Base Chiefs Mess working alongside Army, Marine and Air Force operators (Joint operations became a reality over the last 20 years of war). Returning from the war zone, the experience lead to some to become outstanding leaders and mentors, just as their own mentors had done for them. As a Chief Petty Officer, “investment” is as important as the core values of “Honor”, “Courage”, and “Commitment”.

** The quote from the unnamed SCPO was in response to his own question to a “selectee”, as to when he “became” a Chief Petty Officer. (He intentionally sought out greater responsibilities and mentored his peers, akin to the role of a CPO, until he was himself selected)

Ask the Chief: Seaman to Admiral program

While developing talented junior enlisted and officers into highly-skilled and effective leaders is a goal of the military in general, some leaders’ examples are more inspirational than others. During the late 1990s, aboard the destroyer USS PETERSON, commanded at the time by a former “snipe” (nickname for a member of the Engineering Department), the mission effectiveness and morale of the crew were exceptional, earning the ship awards from the combatant commander. It may have been his model of leadership that inspired a shipmate in my work center, and a Boatswains Mate (another division in the Operations Department) to apply and be accepted for, commissioning. Recently I learned that a peer Cryptologic Technician Maintainer (CTM), with whom I served in the early 1990s, is now a Captain who serves as Commander of Information Warfare Training Command, Pensacola, Florida.

I had the privilege of working for two commanding officers who had begun their careers as an enlisted Seaman Recruit and retired forty years later as Rear Admiral. Both were inspirational in developing military professionals, both officer and enlisted. Officers who modeled the standards set by these COs, became commanding officers in later years. These same units produced enlisted members who rose to become unit Senior Enlisted Leaders, achieve the highest rank of Master Chief Petty Officer in their respective Ratings, and some of these same MCPOs became their Rating’s Enlisted Community Manager.

It has been nearly thirty years since the Navy established a career path for enlisted Sailors to seek a commission. The Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) Admiral Mike Boorda was the first Sailor to start a career as an enlisted man, receive a commissioning, and promote all the way to the highest rank and office in the Navy. It was he who instituted the “Seaman to Admiral Program”, now referred to as STA-21. Each year, exceptional male and female enlisted sailors may apply to become officers. July is the cutoff for applications to be received for the following year.

From websites such as Station Hypo, which posts stories of the history and personnel of the Navy Information Warfare (and Cryptology) community as well as the official website of the Navy Public Affairs office, the news that men and women have set the bar for others to model. Like the story of Mark Burns, Navy SEAL and Rear Admiral, his insight, having attained Flag rank, will inspire others to pursue what is possible.

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The Battle of Boston Harbor

In maritime warfare, has there been a case where a United States Navy Midshipman was promoted to commanding officer? And then, upon losing a battle, was court-martialed? The answer is yes to both questions.

It was the War of 1812. The battle itself was very short and resulted in the deaths of many of the American crew and capture of the American vessel. Captain Philip Broke, commander of HMS Shannon challenged Captain James Lawrence of the Chesapeake – he had been her commander less that 2 weeks. The Chesapeake got underway to meet the Shannon and in the short conflict her masts and steering were damaged by the British warship and became inoperable. Two hundred-fifty of her crew were killed. Captain Lawrence was mortally wounded, and as he was taken below, he promoted the only surviving officer, midshipman William S. Cox to the rank of Third Lieutenant. Though ordered to continue the fight until sunk, she was captured, and the Chesapeake‘s remaining crew were imprisoned in Nova Scotia. After the war, a court martial found Third Lieutenant Cox guilty of briefly leaving his post during the engagement. He was stripped of rank and discharged. William Cox died in 1874, but 75 years after his death, in August 1952, President Truman signed a legislation posthumously restoring Cox’s rank of Third Lieutenant.