Story by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Susan C. Damman

BREMERTON, Wash. – Sailors stationed aboard USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) celebrated Black History Month with a ceremony in the forecastle Feb. 26.

Stennis’ Multicultural Committee organized the event highlighting the contributions of African Americans throughout history.

“It’s about the past and present,” said Stennis’ commanding officer, Capt. Mike Wettlaufer. “The opportunity that Martin Luther King Jr. spoke about and his legacy carries on and exists right here. It exists here on John C. Stennis. It exists certainly in the United States Navy. It exists in the military, and it also exists in America. But it’s up to all of us to make it happen.”

Stennis Sailors gave spoken word performances, read excerpts from King’s “I Have a Dream” speech, and performed a dance routine as part of the celebration. The event included a multimedia presentation about black leaders from history and aboard John C. Stennis.

Chief Aviation Boatswain’s Mate (Fuels) Louis Citizen from Houston participated in the ceremony because he values the importance of diversity and equal opportunity.

“No matter how we may have been raised, we choose to change,” said Chief Citizen. “And that’s one thing that makes the U.S. military one of the strongest. We are diverse.”

The event emphasized the importance of remembering the past to create a better future.

“It brings about awareness,” said Electrician’s Mate Fireman Marquis Owens from San Diego. “Even though King’s speech and the dream happened in the past, it’s still relevant today.”

For more news from USS John C. Stennis visit or

Story by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Kenneth Rodriguez Santiago

BREMERTON, Wash. – U.S. Naval Sea Cadets assigned to a local unit visited USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) to learn about shipboard life and meet Sailors, Feb. 21-22.

Thirty-five cadets from Seattle’s Blue Angels Squadron spent more than 24 hours aboard the ship for a tour and participated in various tasks.

The Sea Cadets program provides opportunities for kids aged 11 to 17 to experience life as a Sailor or Marine and provides cadets with skill sets that can be used as a stepping stone for joining the military.

Anticipation and excitement filled the cadets’ faces as they came aboard the carrier for the first time and spent the night.

“The expressions on their faces were priceless,” said Chief Navy Counselor Rex E. Parmelee, from Nicholasville, Ky., Stennis’ command career counselor. “They could not believe they were about to come aboard for the weekend.”

Once the surreal feeling passed for the cadets, they were ready to get to work. They stood messenger of the watch, saluting Sailors on and off the quarterdeck. They served as medical stretcher bearers during a general quarters scenario and learned about different techniques Stennis Sailors use during a casualty.

When the cadets finished standing watch and doing training, they had the opportunity to work with the food service assistants on the mess decks. They wiped tables, took out trash and washed trays in the scullery. To wrap up the day, the cadets received a tour of the ship, seeing everything from the flight deck to the forecastle.

“The Sea cadets program and this trip gave cadets a taste of what they can expect from the military without the long commitment of four or six years,” said John Cox, operations officer for Blue Angels Squadron Sea Cadets, a volunteer for twenty years. “We have also sent cadets to schools and training camps that the military use. We’ve had cadets interested in joining the Marine Corps, so we sent them to Camp Pendleton.”

According to Parmelee, not only is this event important to show cadets what Sailors do, but it gives the cadets a foundation for being a great Sailor. Whether they decide to enlist or become an officer, they had an experience of a lifetime and can now make more informed decisions about their military futures.

“I’ve seen this program help motivate and improve the learning skills of cadets,” said Cox. “The program directs them on career paths they weren’t even thinking about before, giving them a new focus in life.”

For more information about the U.S. Naval Sea Cadets Corps visit For more news from USS John C. Stennis visit or

Story by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Christian B. Martinez

BREMERTON, Wash. – Sailors stationed aboard USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) began filing 2014 income taxes using the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program, Feb. 10.

VITA, available ashore and afloat, is a free service providing aid to Sailors who want help filing taxes. Volunteer assistants walk Sailors through the online filing process.

“For Sailors that have basic tax returns, VITA is a very quick and easy process,” said Lt. Scott Upright, Stennis’ VITA coordinator, from Cresco, Pa. “For more complex tax matters, our volunteer assistants can refer Sailors to either the base legal systems office or off base where they can get the level of help they need.”

Sailors who wish to take advantage of the program must bring several forms with them, including their W-2 pay statement, a bank account routing number so the funds can be direct deposited, official proof of dependents, and any forms regarding personal property or finances.

“Teaching Sailors how to file their taxes gives them one more tool in order to take control of their financial affairs,” said Chief Engineman Scott Heppenstall, a VITA volunteer assistant, from Seattle. “I have done my own taxes for years, so I wanted to volunteer this year and share that experience with them.”

VITA is particularly useful for Sailors with unique situations that may change the nature of their tax return, such as marriage, children, recently acquired property and retirement plans. These are all factors that can affect the amount returned and raise questions for first timers.

“This was my first time filing taxes jointly with my wife, but the volunteer assistants made sure to answer all my questions,” said Ship’s Serviceman Seaman Andrew Avila, from Lawrence, Ark. “They double checked every entry I made and ensured that the steps were followed correctly. This simplified the process and helped make filing my taxes easier.”

VITA services are available Monday through Friday in the ship’s library 0730 to 1130.

For more news from USS John C. Stennis visit or

Caption Document.docx

Story by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Andrew P. Holmes

BREMERTON, Wash. – USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) completed the Command Assessment for Readiness and Training (CART) phase II inspection Feb. 12.

CART II evaluates Stennis’ ability to respond to a casualty by concentrating on drills and exercises.

“Drills are the demonstrative piece for training,” said Lt. Cmdr. Shane Beavers, Stennis’ training officer. “[CART] shows how well we can organize and train the crew. We have to demonstrate that we can enter a combat situation and respond as a cohesive unit.”

The CART team executed scenarios to test Stennis’ preparedness. The drills started in condition three, the normal underway watch, and escalated to flying squad drills, formerly condition two, which are designed to combat smaller scale casualties. The four-day inspection culminated with condition one, also known as General Quarters.
“The scenario starts hours before General Quarters,” said Beavers. “A lot of condition three drills deal with combat operations and intel. They handle most of the issues that may occur up until the ship is manned for general quarters.”

General quarters is called to combat major casualties on the ship, including fire, flooding, or hull damage.

Stennis Sailors trained for more than a year for CART II, according to Chief Petty Officer Barry Nowell, locker chief for damage control locker one bravo.

“We prepared for this for quite some time,” said Nowell. “Everybody knew what was expected of them. It didn’t take very long for us to step up and get the job done.”

While it is an inspection, CART II is not pass or fail, according to Beavers. It shows a ship’s capability to support continued preparation for deployment.

“The ship did well, and the assessment done during CART II showed that we have been and are on the right track to become fully certified to conduct major combat operations,” said Beavers.

With the completion of CART II, Stennis will continue on to the next stage of qualifications. This will include the Tailored Ship’s Training Availability (TSTA) and Final Evaluation Period, scheduled to take place over the next several months.

For more news from USS John C. Stennis visit or 74.


Story by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Christian B. Martinez

PACIFIC OCEAN- Sailors from the U.S. Navy’s newest aircraft carrier are currently embarked aboard USS John C. Stennis for a three-week underway training period, Jan. 10 to Feb. 6.

Thirty-eight Sailors assigned to Pre-Commissioning Unit Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) were selected to join Stennis in order to receive real-world training and experience on an operational carrier at sea.

“Operational experience at sea is a key element to ensure we have a fully trained and viable crew ready to deliver the lead ship in the Navy’s newest class of aircraft carriers,” said Capt. Sean Bailey, Ford’s executive officer.
“The opportunity to get underway with John C. Stennis is invaluable to the Sailors from Gerald R. Ford, and it serves as the perfect complement to the training we have been receiving while our ship is still under construction.”

The first of its class, Ford is currently being built in Newport News, Va. and is scheduled for delivery in 2016. For many Ford Sailors on Stennis, it is a unique opportunity for them to learn about underway evolutions such as vertical replenishments and general quarters drills.

“General quarters has been one of many firsts for me this underway,” said Aviation Boatswain’s Mate (fuels) Airman Recruit Darrius Wilkerson, from Little Rock, Ark. “I was able to experience a man overboard drill, see the flight deck, and work with Sailors from Stennis’ air department.”

During the underway period, Ford Sailors will receive lessons on programs that Stennis Sailors have been working on for the past several months, such as the Consolidated Afloat Networks and Enterprise Services (CANES) system, maintenance and material management (3-M) system and other shipboard programs.

“As the leading chief petty officer of the Supply SS40 division of the Gerald R. Ford, I will be responsible for the damage control maintenance of our supply department,” said Senior Chief Logistics Specialist Calendula Sanders, from Chicago. “I am here to receive 3-M and Sked 3.2 training, which I will use to help establish our damage control maintenance program.”

Ford will be the newest class of carrier since the Nimitz-class launched in 1972. It will feature fully electric utilities, eliminating steam service lines on the ship and reducing maintenance requirements. The improved ship design will also allow the ship and air wing to operate with approximately 400 fewer personnel.

For more news from USS John C. Stennis visit or


By USS John C. Stennis Public Affairs

PACIFIC OCEAN – When Religious Program Specialist Seaman Ashlei Chwalek received her bingo ticket, she knew the odds of winning were against her.

She knew USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) Sailors purchased 1586 tickets for the ship-board game, so she did not get excited. She didn’t get excited when the announcers on the ship’s internal TV system started calling her numbers or when she only had a few numbers left. When she won the grand prize and received two tickets to the Super Bowl, she did not get excited. She got ecstatic.

“I was in shock,” said Chwalek. “When I won, I started running to the TV studio to get my tickets; and I didn’t even know where I was going, so a friend had to help me. To be able to represent my family, younger females and Stennis at the Super Bowl at such a young age is a nerve wracking and incredible experience.”

Chwalek, a native of Tucson, Ariz. joined the Navy in April 2013, and her desire to help others led her to work in religious ministries, which she sees as following in the footsteps of her father.

“My dad is very involved in ministry and believes in changing people’s lives, and I wanted to do something as meaningful as he has done,” she said. “I hope that as I continue my Navy career and grow as I person, I continue to share a deeper and more meaningful story with other young females who need love, support and a good role model in their lives.”

It was the bond between father and daughter that caused Chwalek to invite her dad, Tony Chwalek, to watch the game with her. Reunited in Glendale, Ariz., less than two hours away from her hometown, Chwalek, her father and three younger sisters, Kat, Lizzie and Anna, set out on a weekend of family and football.

The weekend was not without drama though. Chwalek, like hundreds of other Super Bowl ticket holders, fell victim to ticket brokers’ renegotiation tactics. The verbal price agreement for her tickets by Stennis’ Morale, Welfare and Recreation (MWR) team, who ran the ship-board bingo game, fell through when the broker found another buyer willing to pay a lot more money.

After more than 24 hours of non-stop, intense searching, MWR located two tickets for Chwalek and the plan for a once-in-a-lifetime weekend was back on track.

“The locker room exhibit [inside the NFL Experience] was fascinating,” said Tony. “Being able to see the history of the teams and how the uniforms changed throughout the years was really interesting.” Chwalekwas overwhelmed by the passionate fandom evident throughout the weekend.

“I was amazed by the intensity of the crowds,” Chwaleksaid. “Seeing how excited everyone was to see the [Vince Lombardi] trophy and the collection of Super Bowl rings reminded me of people at worship. It was crazy.”

After a long day of the exploring the NFL experience and the city of Glendale, the Chwalek family retired to their hotel rooms to make signs cheering on their favorite team and to prepare for the big day ahead.

“I’ve never seen a game live, so I’m very excited,” said Tony. “The fact that my first game is the Super Bowl and I get to watch it with my daughter is just amazing.”

Sunday evening, as father and daughter returned from the game, Chwalekechoed her father’s sentiment and stressed that time with family was the best gift she received.

“This was a once in a lifetime experience,” said Chwalek. “Who would have thought that playing one game of bingo would have led to this weekend? I am disappointed that the Seahawks didn’t win of course, but I’m so thankful that I was able to see my family and go to the game with my dad.”

Story by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Andrew P. Holmes

Pacific Ocean – The chief of naval personnel (CNP) and fleet master chief responsible for naval manpower embarked aboard USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) to meet with Sailors, Jan. 23 and 24.

Vice Adm. William Moran, CNP, and Fleet Master Chief April Beldo, Moran’s senior enlisted advisor, visited to the crew of Stennis for the first time since the ship finished her Docking Planned Incremental Availability (DPIA) period November 2014.

“Last time we were out here was when you were back in the yards, back in November 2013,” said Moran. “I remember walking through the hangar bay at that time thinking ‘When are we ever going to be able to see this ship underway?’ And here we are, almost 15 months later, so it’s great to see you underway, great to see you operating.”

With Stennis currently undergoing carrier qualifications in preparation for deployment, Moran and Beldo spoke with the crew in a live question and answer session over ship’s SITE TV.

“We’re out here to listen and learn from you,” said Moran. “And we get a lot of great questions and comments. Some of the things we can answer and those things we can’t answer we take back with us and try to answer for you.”

Here are a few of the questions asked by Stennis’ crew:

Q: When will we see deployment lengths get back to something more normal, around seven months instead of 10 months?

A: “That question comes up often,” said Moran. “As you know, Vinson is out there in the northern Arabian gulf on a scheduled 10-month deployment, a very long time. Prior to her, Bush was out there for nine months. Bataan was out there for 10 months. The reason we’ve been on these long deployments is, quite frankly, we’ve been running these platforms very hard for the past 10 or 12 years. And maintenance is taking it in the shorts.”

“Now that we have started to get maintenance under control across the Navy, and we have reduced the number of total deployers out there, we are going to start to see those deployment lengths come back to something more normal. We expect that almost all the deployments for the big decks, both carriers and amphibious assault ships, are going to be down to seven months and back to a normal cycle.”

“Prognosis is good; the secret to success is good maintenance periods. A tip of the hat to Stennis for getting this ship out in very close to being right on time, which is unusual for carrier maintenance periods today. That effort does not go unnoticed, and I know how much this crew participated to get this ship out of the yards and ready to go to sea. If we keep seeing efforts like yours around the fleet, we’ll be able to get back to those normal schedules, about seven months.”

Q: Is it true that after August 2015 we will no longer be able to pick orders for our next command?

A: “That is not a true statement,” said Beldo. “What billet based distribution (BBD) is going to do is allow commands to make sure their billets are put into the system with exactly what they want. And then once that is done, once you go into CMSID, which will still be available, when you pick your job you will have to meet the particular criteria that the command has set. BBD is going to make sure commands have the Sailors they need to fit the billets they have.”

Q: When can conventional Machinist Mates expect to get pro pay for reactor work?

A: “Your junior officers brought that up in a call last night with us,” said Moran. “It’s the first time I’ve heard that request, and I’ve got to be honest with you, I know how hard those conventional guys are working down in the reactor department. We are going to take that back and ask the people who fund that program to see if we can’t carve out a little bit of money for those guys. No promises, but I am going to take it back and work on that.”

Q: Why are you changing uniforms? The best way to fix it, is to stop fixing it.

A: “You’re probably right, shipmate,” said Beldo. “The Admiral and I get this a lot as we travel. If we just stop, it would work itself out. But one of our responsibilities is to listen to the fleet. A lot of the feedback we get is that we need to fix this in the uniform, or fix that, or this doesn’t fit right.”

Moran added, “I’m with you shipmate, about too many changes. I’d love to slow down the pace of change on our uniforms, and I think we’ll get there once we get this next trudge of Cracker Jack uniforms out. We just finished the wear test on that, got a lot of good feedback on that. Got a lightweight version of the NWU coming out, just finished the wear test on that. Beyond that there are very few changes in the enlisted force, other than the fire resistant coverall, which we are redesigning to be more utilitarian, more lightweight, more breathable, and frankly looks sharper than the one we have today.”

Q: How come the Navy only pays 80 percent of Tuition Assistance (TA), making us pay more out of pocket?

A: “Not true, shipmate,” said Moran. “We fund TA at 100 percent. I tried to go to 75 percent last year during the last budget cycle, but your CNO braced me up and said ‘what don’t you understand about 100 percent TA?’ So we fully funded TA, and it will not be reduced. What has happened was last year the Department of Defense set a policy that we would no longer fund the fees for registration and labs. That’s it. Beyond that, nothing’s changed.”

Q: Are you a Seahawks fan?

A: “As long as I’m on board this ship, I’m a Seahawks fan,” said Moran. “The minute I walk off this ship I’m a Giants fan. It’s been a rough couple years for the Giants, and a great couple years for the Seahawks. But I’ll be cheering for the Seahawks in the Super Bowl because I love Russell Wilson. I love the leadership of that team and I think they’re going to win, so good luck to the Seahawks.”

Story by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Christian B. Martine

PACIFIC OCEAN- Sailors assigned to Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) are preparing for the upcoming Navy College Program for Afloat College Education (NCPACE) term, which begins Feb. 9.

The program allows Sailors to continue their education while maintaining a regular work schedule during underway periods.

“Being out to sea a majority of the time can make it hard to attend class in person or even online,” said Operations Specialist 2nd Class Chastity Dollar, Stennis’ educational services leading petty officer, from Dover, Tenn. “That’s why the CD-ROM method of delivery is so effective. Nothing is worse than being in the middle of an exam and suddenly losing internet service.”

The educational services department provides counseling to help Stennis Sailors determine what classes they need to achieve their degree goals. Additionally, Sailors interested must attend a brief given by the Navy College Office, route a request chit and take placement tests for class eligibility.

Many prospective students want to use NCPACE as a way to jumpstart their career, both within and outside the Navy.

“I plan on staying in the Navy as long as I can, but I want to work on a degree at the same time,” said Aviation Boatswain’s Mate (Handling) 3rd Class Chelsea Dell, from Altoona, Pa. “I might consider becoming an officer someday, and a degree gives me that option.”

For more news on NCPACE, contact the education services department at J-dial 7376.

For more news from USS John C. Stennis visit or

Stennis Sailors Prepare to Ace NCPACE – caption.docx

Story by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Kenneth Rodriguez Santiago

PACIFIC OCEAN – USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) visited Naval Magazine (NAVMAG) Indian Island, the Navy’s primary ordnance storage and handling station on the West Coast, to onload six million pounds of ammunition, Jan. 13-15.

“This is the biggest ordnance onload we’ve seen,” said Senior Chief Aviation Ordnanceman Jason Engleman, G-5 division’s leading chief petty officer. “We haven’t had an onload since December 2010, and we are ready to show what this warship can do.”

The ship plans to take on two-thirds of its weight capacity during the three day evolution. Bombs, missiles and rounds will be onloaded by 1,400 crane lifts.

“The importance of the Indian Island visit is to provide ammunition for the ship’s defense, and assist with training during this underway,” said Lt. Cmdr. Steve Kashuba, Stennis’ ordnance handler officer.

Before weapons department’s Sailors transfer ammunition, every Sailor in G-1 division must become ordnance strike qualified.

“It is a requirement for everyone who handles ordnance,” said Aviation Ordnanceman 3rd Class Luke Wilson, from Ball, La. “We all have to be qualified to handle ordnance to ensure a safe environment at all times.”

Sailors must also qualify to transport ordnance using the weapons elevators, electrically enclosed forklifts and 6K forklifts.

“Having met these requirements definitely helped to prepare us for this visit,” said Wilson. “We have to be a well-oiled machine. If we hadn’t trained and gotten qualified, it would be a mess.”

The ordnance onload was an all-hands evolution and included Sailors from AIMD, air, navigation, safety, security, supply and medical departments. Sailors served as watchstanders, safety observers or ordnance handlers to ensure the evolution ran smoothly.

For more news from USS John C. Stennis visit or


Stennis Visits Indian Island – caption.docx

By USS John C. Stennis Public Affairs

USS JOHN C. STENNIS (At Sea) – With less than 500 residents, the village of Holland Patent may not look like much on a map, but it is more than the sum of its population.
It is more than its .5 square mile radius or the land grant for which it was named. For the commander of the John C. Stennis Strike Group, the small village in upstate New York is simply, and forever, home.

When fully manned, the John C. Stennis Strike Group has a population of more than 7,500 men and women. That is more than 15 times the total population of Rear Adm. Ron Boxall’s hometown, but Boxall credits his village with teaching him lessons he uses daily.

“Growing up in a small town helped shaped who I am today,” said Boxall. “It sounds contradictory, but when you grow up in a small town you learn to meet a lot of people. You have to learn how to not only get along with everyone but also how to motivate them.”

Attending Pennsylvania State University on a four-year Navy ROTC scholarship, Boxall motivated himself through his interest in the recently added computer science degree. It was the first year Penn State offered the curriculum and Boxall was hooked.

“I was definitely passionate about computer science,” said Boxall. “I remember my friend’s mother had a computer, and another friend of mine and I used to program it. I thought, ‘this is definitely the wave of the future’ and it drove me to learn about the field.”

After he graduated, Boxall was commissioned as a pilot but switched to the surface warfare community due to medical reasons. It was as a SWO where his computer science background proved beneficial.

“The great thing about a general science degree is that it gave me a broad basis of science knowledge,” he said. “Computers are a lot different now than when I started, but the logic thought train is very similar. So when I switched to the surface warfare side I naturally drifted to combat systems.”

Since joining the Navy in 1984, Boxall has served in various commands, but his success as commander of two Aegis ships, the cruiser USS Lake Erie (CG 70) and the destroyer USS Carney (DDG 64), sticks out because it reminds him of his lessons learned at home.

“I learned that my job as a commander was less about Aegis and combat systems and more about the people,” said Boxall. “It goes back to what I learned growing up in Holland Patent. You don’t have the opportunity in a small town to pick who lives there, and you don’t have the opportunity on a ship to pick who shows up, so you have to communicate and learn what motivates people.”

He is no longer the same young man in a small town or in command of Aegis ships, but Boxall said he intends to bring the same small-town mentality to the John C. Stennis Strike Group.

“Integration of a strike group is a very complex thing,” said Boxall. “You have incredibly modern technology, but a lot of it is developed in stovepipe. My job is to get everyone talking, to have everyone understand what each other needs and to try to communicate that up and down the chain of command.”

As the commander of Stennis’ strike group, Boxall leads Sailors aboard one aircraft carrier, two cruisers, eight destroyers and more than 60 aircraft from 10 different squadrons. With such a large command, accomplishing any single mission is challenging yet Boxall continues to focus on the human element.

“If you worry about what your people need to be successful, then they will work very hard for you,” said Boxall. “I value the opinions of our Sailors and if a decision is made that does not sit well with your enlisted, then it does not sit well with me.”

From a small town to a large command, Boxall has stayed true to the values and lesson learned in Holland Patent. In the end, it starts with people.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 4,093 other followers

%d bloggers like this: