Story by Petty Officer 2nd Class Susan Damman

PORT ORCHARD, Washington – The John C. Stennis Center for Public Service Leadership recognized three USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) Sailors for their outstanding leadership at an awards ceremony, Oct. 20.

Cmdr. Robert Burgess, from Romulus, Michigan, received the Straight Furrow Award; Senior Chief Petty Officer Robert Schmugge, from Rush City, Minnesota, received the Look Ahead Award; and Chief Petty Officer Nicholas Winkler, form Wichita, Kansas, received the Constitution Award.

Congress created the John C. Stennis Center for Public Service Leadership in 1988 in recognition of the exceptional public service leadership of John C. Stennis, a U.S. senator representing Mississippi for more than 41 years and the namesake of the Bremerton-based aircraft carrier. The Stennis Center hosts the awards ceremony annually to recognize Sailors aboard John C. Stennis for sustained superior performance and exceptional leadership skills.

“We present these awards because we think it really is important to recognize and honor the best of the best and hold up their example of leadership for others to see,” said Rex Buffington, director of the John C. Stennis Center for Public Service Leadership.

The award winners were presented with replicas of the U.S. Capitol building.

“It’s actually quite amazing to be selected because of all the leaders that I’m surrounded with on the ship,” said Schmugge.

The Straight Furrow Award, the Look Ahead Award, and the Constitution Award recognize Sailors who demonstrate honor, courage, commitment, foresight and integrity. The names of the three awards are derived from leadership principles demonstrated by Senator Stennis.

Stennis once said, “I want to plow a straight furrow right down to the end of my row,” referencing how farmers must look forward while maintaining steady effort to plow a straight line in the field.

USS John C. Stennis’ motto is, ‘Look Ahead,’ the same motto Senator Stennis kept on a plaque on his desk to remind himself to focus on the future.

Stennis memorized the entire Constitution while a law student. He admired the document and the inspiration and determination of the leaders who created it.

“[John C. Stennis] always looked ahead, always had a plan and was always thinking about others,” said Winkler. ” I think that’s what we’ve got to do as leaders. We have to take care of our people, and we have to take care of each other.”

The John C. Stennis Center for Public Service Leadership was created by Public Law 100-458, and is codified in the United States Code under Title 2 – The Congress, Chapter 22. The Stennis Center develops and delivers programs for young people, leaders in local, state and federal government, and congressional staff that promote public service as a noble calling, enhance leadership skills and foster relationships among leaders with similar concerns.

For more information about the John C. Stennis Center for Public Service Leadership visit

John C. Stennis is conducting a scheduled maintenance availability at Naval Base Kitsap-Bremerton.

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Story by Petty Officer 2nd Class Jonathan Jiang

BREMERTON, Washington – USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) held another session of its ongoing Sailor mentorship program, ‘Rudder Shift,’ Oct. 19.

Rudder Shift is a voluntary mentorship program conducted by the religious ministries department that features members of the Chiefs Mess sharing their life experiences with junior enlisted experiencing difficulties in their professional or personal lives.

The program started in March and due its success, has gone from being held once a month to every two weeks.

“A lot of the Sailors who have come to Rudder Shift have come back to talk to us and their motivation has increased,” said Master Chief Petty Officer Warren Brown, from Houston, a Rudder Shift speaker. “We continue to have conversations with them about how they can better their careers and their lives. I think the program is a great success.”

Each session features a handful of speakers who address a small group of Sailors.

“When I was in the Navy at a young age, I would just constantly get in trouble,” said Senior Chief Petty Officer Terrish Bilbrey, from Lafayette, Tennessee. “Had someone shared a story with me … I might have felt like I had someone I could relate to and look up to.”

Bilbrey emphasized empathy as a focus of Rudder Shift.

“If we can understand that each of us has a specific struggle and story, and we share those things instead of being angry about it and angry at one another then we would just have a better environment altogether,” said Bilbrey.

The goal of the program is to encourage Sailors to take initiative in changing in their lives for the better.

“One thing that I always tell Sailors is that a small course change will get them pointed in the right direction,” said Brown “If they can just find one little thing they can improve on, and that may be being on time, or being respectful regardless of the situation … something as small as that will help them get back on course.”

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Story by Seaman Oscar Quezada

PACIFIC OCEAN – USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) completed its Unit Level Training Assessment – Sustainment (ULTRA S) prior to returning to Naval Base Kitsap-Bremerton, Oct. 6.

ULTRA-S helps ensure John C. Stennis remains mission ready, with the skills needed to carry out a variety of missions.

A team from the Afloat Training Group (ATG) embarked the ship to observe, assess and evaluate Sailors’ shipboard watch standing, war fighting and damage control proficiencies. The drills performed during ULTRA-S help determine the quality of the ship’s ongoing training programs and see how ready the ship really is.

“We want to know that the fleet can trust this particular ship to sustain itself in any kind of casualty,” said Petty Officer First Class Dominic Gamez, from Phoenix, an ATG assessor. “What we are looking for is safety compliance, that all safety procedures are going well and while combating a casualty, how well the motivation is and [to] make sure they meet the particular wickets we are looking for.”

One of the drills used to help determine John C. Stennis’ readiness level is a mass casualty drill. This drill prepares Sailors for worst-case scenarios, such as an aircraft crash-landing on the flight deck resulting in multiple people injured.

“It’s a shipboard drill, so what is getting evaluated is the firefighting capabilities of our flight deck crews, the medical response to the ship’s mass casualty, our response to run elevators to bring casualties to the hanger bay to get triaged and then get reported back down to main medical to save lives,” said Lt. j.g. Donald Schmidt, from Newington, Connecticut, who was overall in charge of the mass casualty drill. “We simulate a worst-case scenario on the flight deck where we have an out of control [fire], over 50 casualties and have aircraft in the way. The reason we have that stuff is to cause enough chaos to see how we can respond putting out the fire, rescue casualties and get the deck ready to recover aircraft.”

Another training tool used during the underway were general quarters (GQ) drills.

The GQ drills are scenario-based evolutions in which Sailors rapidly report to damage control repair lockers, prepare the ship for imminent damage by closing hatches and fittings to maximize ship survivability, and then seek out and respond to simulated casualties including fire, flooding and structural damage.

“We are required to be certified by the Afloat Training Group to be able to [respond] within a certain amount of time,” said Senior Chief Thomas B. Funderbeurk, from Hinesville, Georgia, a member of the damage control training team. “Think of it as a recertification. The evaluators are looking at the damage control team’s ability to identify areas that need improvement on our fire fighting methods.”

GQs also have a medical training component involved. Sailors are evaluated on how to deal with different injuries and report the injuries to the medical department of the ship.

“Knowing the basics of first aid and injury treatment will better serve [Sailors] when there is an actual injury in a workspace and [medical] is not readily available to respond,” said Petty Officer 1st Class Jose A. Jimenez, from El Baño, California, the medical training coordinator.

At the end of ULTRA-S, John C. Stennis was deemed overall proficient and prepared to conduct future tasking.

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Story by Petty Officer 3rd Class Aime Lykins

PACIFIC OCEAN – More than 40 Sailors on board USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) gathered in the ship’s training resource complex to talk about motorcycle safety, Oct. 3.

The Sailors; a mixture of new, and experienced riders; came together to network, discuss Washington state licensing procedure, outline Navy mandated safety requirements and sign up for further training courses.

“We are really talking about [operational risk management] ORM,” said Senior Chief Thomas Funderburk, from Hinesville, Georgia, John C. Stennis’ motorcycle safety coordinator and motorcycle rider since 1985. “Everything you are taught with ORM in the Navy is thinking about what you are getting ready to do. You have to make plans. Even if the environment changes while you are out there riding, if you at least have a plan and proper training…you have an idea of what adjustments you need to make to stay safe.”

Five motorcycle safety representatives (MSR) attended the meeting and shared experiences from their motorcycling history to help junior riders with topics such as selecting proper personal protective equipment (PPE), dealing with mishaps and the process of becoming a registered John C. Stennis motorcyclist.

“We have 88 registered riders,” said Funderburk. “Since we have been back from deployment, we are offering refresher courses so that we can be 100 percent compliant with the [motorcycle safety] program. It is my goal that every rider is trained, educated and has a better chance of survival on the road.”

After the safety presentation, new riders paired up with experienced riders as part of the motorcycle mentorship program designed to help new riders stay safe, informed and understand the responsibilities and risks of riding on and off base.

“I’m definitely going to sign up for the [basic motorcycle safety] course,” said Petty Officer 2nd Class Jacob Patrick, from Kendallville, Indiana. “The biggest thing I learned from attending this training is how big the network of riders is on board. There is more support for riders than I thought, and they put out really good information that is relevant to motorcyclist to let them know what is going on out on the road.”

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Story by Seaman Oscar Quezada

PACIFIC OCEAN – USS John C. Stennis’ (CVN 74) command religious ministries department (CRMD) celebrated Rosh Hashanah, a Jewish holiday, with a visiting Navy Rabbi, Oct. 3.

Lt. Josh Sherwin, a Navy chaplain, from Orlando, Florida, is one of ten active-duty rabbis in the Navy and is assigned to Destroyer Squadron 1.

Having a rabbi onboard for the holiday is unusual, as there are relatively few compared to the number of ships at sea.

“It’s called a High Holy Day, there are only a few of them, [and they] are incredibly important,” said Petty Officer 3rd Class Mitchell Dubin, from Sarasota, Florida. “The fact that we managed to get someone who has studied this for their entire career, has dedicated his life to the study of Judaism and to help us through this incredibly important day is almost overwhelming.”

Rosh Hashanah is a two-day event, representing the beginning of the Jewish year, that marks the anniversary of the creation of Adam and Eve in the Jewish tradition.

“Rosh Hashanah is the Jewish New Year, similar to how January 1st begins the new calendar year. But in addition to changing the page on the calendar it’s also about looking back at the past year on how you did things well, things you didn’t do so well, mistakes you made and lessons learned,” said Sherwin. “Then you look ahead to the new year and look at how you can make the new year better.”

Sherwin provided the Sailors Rosh Hashanah services including customary observations such as sounding the shofar, a hollowed-out ram’s horn, and sharing symbolic foods with Sailors, such as apples dipped in honey, to induce a “sweet new year.”

Celebrating the holiday on the ship while underway also afforded unique opportunities, such as having the Tashlikh ceremony on the ship’s fantail. Participants of Tashikh symbolically throw away bread, representing their sins, into a body of water to wash the sins away.

“The water is represented in tradition as life and the current of the water carries those sins away,” said Sherwin. “It’s really cool, I don’t think most Jews get to do it off an aircraft carrier. In fact, the congregation in San Diego was really jealous.”

Rabbi Sherwin will be with John C. Stennis until the end of the underway and, like all Navy chaplains, is available to talk with Sailors.

“I feel very lucky to be here, very happy to be here, I’ve always found that my underway and my deployed holidays are more special and more memorable than the ones I spend in a congregation back home,” said Sherwin. “I’m very thankful and happy to be here with the crew of John C. Stennis.”

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Story by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Jonathan Jiang

BREMERTON, Washington – Sailors aboard USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) completed a maintenance availability period, Sept. 20.

In a little more than a month, John C. Stennis Sailors, together with Puget Sound Naval Shipyard (PSNS) workers and contractors, laid down 97,955 square feet of nonskid in multiple areas including on the flight deck, fantail and jet shop, replaced the wire rope of one of the ship’s four aircraft elevators and replaced two watertight doors.

“We did very well,” said Lt. Cmdr. Brent Miller, from Grand Island, Nebraska. “We were prepared for it … which is always very important for the first few days because if you get a slow start in the first week, it can really put you behind.”

Miller and Lt. Cmdr. Mike Palmer, from Vancouver, Washington, served as John C. Stennis’ maintenance managers for the availability period.

According to Miller, another key to John C. Stennis’ timely completion was teamwork.

“We have good communication and we’re working very well with PSNS and our contractor teammates,” said Miller.

The availability started Aug. 15 following John C. Stennis’ regularly scheduled deployment to the Indo-Asia-Pacific.

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Story by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Jonathan Jiang

BREMERTON, Washington – USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) got underway from Naval Base Kitsap-Bremerton, Washington to conduct routine training, Sept. 27.

During the underway, John C. Stennis Sailors will conduct damage control and firefighting training, seamanship training, small boat operations and exercises designed to maintain technical and tactical proficiency in a variety of areas.

The goal of the underway is to ensure John C. Stennis and its crew maintain their high levels of proficiency and readiness.

John C. Stennis returned from a seven-month deployment to the Indo-Asia-Pacific, Aug. 14, and has been conducting a routine maintenance availability in its homeport of Bremerton.

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Story by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Cole C. Pielop

BREMERTON, Washington – Scorching hot flames roared up the wall and crawled onto the ceiling, bringing the room to an almost unbearable temperature.

USS John C. Stennis’ (CVN 74) at-sea firefighting party members stood calm and collected, at the ready to combat the fire, as if it was just another day at the office.

Since returning from deployment August 15th, John C. Stennis Sailors have been receiving damage control training at Bremerton Fire Training Facility. Being prepared to respond to a fire at sea is a basic skill every Sailor must gain.

“The reason we have this program is to teach all personnel on board naval ships basic fire fighting skills,” said Michael Tinder, from Phoenix, a course instructor at the school and retired senior chief damage controlman. “What’s great about this training here is that Sailors are able to come here and flow water and have a fire right there. Giving them the ability to see water come out of the nozzle and have a real fire in front of them will help them react when the time comes.”

The day started off with classroom lectures, then Sailors moved outside and dressed out into firefighting gear.

“Communications, teamwork, hose handling and proper fire tactics are just some of the things they are going to learn here,” said Tinder. “We talk about the chemistry of fire and how [self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA)] work, and everything else we know that will set them up for success before we put them into the burn tower and perform everything we’ve taught them to do.”

The burn tower houses replicas of shipboard spaces, such as a berthing, a galley and an engine room. Students get hands-on experience fighting real fires in a controlled environment.

The motivation was high amongst the Sailors, with high hives and smiles between evolutions making the training all the more effective.

“I’ve done a lot of training in my three years on board, but this is by far the best training I’ve been to,” said Hull Maintenance Technician 2nd Class Forrest Ebell, from St. George, Utah. “The instructors were very knowledgeable and the fires were very realistic, I couldn’t have asked for a better event.”

Sailors were able to practice all of the positions available on the firefighting team and become more comfortable in roles that they are not accustomed to.

“Being able to train with a live fire made it just that more real,” said Damage Controlman Fireman Jacob Shepherd, from Cincinnati. “We were able to change positions on the hose team so that if one of our members fell, we would be able to step in with no hesitation. Being able to go into a casualty and perform at any position is a good feeling.”

With freshly sharpened skills and refreshed tactics, the training was a success for the entire squad. If a casualty were to ever happen aboard John C. Stennis, the Sailors of the at-sea firefighting party are well rounded and ready for action.

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Story by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Andre T. Richard

BREMERTON, Washington – USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) Sailors participated in the
Beautify Bremerton community service event Sept. 24 in several locations around the city.

Sailors picked weeds, raked leaves and cut branches during the Beautify Bremerton event
hosted by Kitsap County Public Works and coordinated by City of Bremerton Public Works.

“Beautify Bremerton is an annual event to provide assistance and public outreach to the
community,” said Sarah Eddington, senior office assistant for Bremerton public works, and
coordinator for the event. “We like to give a little support to people in the community who might be disabled or unable to do it themselves.”

Sailors appreciated the opportunity to volunteer their time and give back to their

“It seems like it’s a very military oriented town and it’s going to be my home for the next
four years,” said Ship’s Serviceman Seaman James Morra, from Woodbridge, New Jersey.
“Having been away from my hometown for so long, Bremerton becomes my home away from home and that’s why I want to give back.”

With the large Navy presence in the city, the relationship between the military and the
community has become stronger with events like Beautify Bremerton.

“I think the Navy has a great relationship with our community, this town would not be
what it is without them,” said Eddington. “If we did not have Navy presence on this project we would not have gotten half as much accomplished, and that is really appreciated.”

Eddington mentioned the work the Navy does in the community is welcomed and valued
by the citizens of the city.

“People really appreciate it, we get calls every year about the event from people asking
about the Navy,” said Eddington. “It’s really great to be able to tell them it was the Navy who volunteered their time and helped us out, so we really appreciate it and want to thank them.”

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Story by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Oscar Quezada

BREMERTON, Washington – Rear Adm. Jonathan A. Yuen, commander, Naval Supply System Command/Chief of Supply Corps visited USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) and spoke to supply department’s Sailors in the Chiefs Mess, Sept. 22.

Yuen presented coins to seven Sailors from John C. Stennis and USS Nimitz (CVN 68) for superior performance seen by their respective chain of commands.

“It’s pretty epic having a two-star come here to give us a coin, that doesn’t happen too often,” said Logistics Specialist 3rd Class James Davis, a John C. Stennis Sailor from Chattanooga, Tennessee.

John C. Stennis and Nimitz are both homeported in Bremerton, Washington, making it easy for Sailors from both ships to be recognized at one event.

“I didn’t really expect to get this opportunity,” said Logistics Specialist 1st Class Edward Yale, from Houston, the contracting officer from Nimitz. “I think the reason I earned the coin was by helping Nimitz save over 2.2 million dollars. It’s always good to find extra money that could go for more materials, more damage control equipment and more things needed around the ship.”

During the ceremony, Yuen answered questions from supply chief petty officers from both ships, ranging from budgets to information about the Ship’s Serviceman (SH) rate.

Yuen also spoke about building the SH rating and the successes it has had in the retention of Sailors.
The ceremony ended with Yuen thanking everyone for having him and telling all the Sailors to continue the fight and to continue striving for moral excellence.

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