Story by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Apprentice Joshua L. Leonard

PACIFIC OCEAN – “Heave!” yells out a Boatswain’s Mate’s as Sailors pull in lines from the pier. As the rope is pulled by the team, a small detail emerges: The line handlers have the same tattoo. The tattoo is set of crossed anchors on the webbing of their hand between the thumb and index finger.

Like a lot of other traditions and customs, the crossed anchors origins are hard to trace back. However, the symbolic meaning is widely known in the world of the Boatswain’s Mate. The tattoo tells of a Boatswain’s Mate knowledge and leadership abilities.

“When I was coming up, it was different,” said Boatswain’s Mate 1st Class Charles Brown, the deck department 2nd division leading petty officer. “To get your tattoo you had to go through a board process with either a Boatswain’s Mate Chief or the most senior Boatswain’s Mate in your division. It was similar to the surface warfare qualification process.”

While some parts of the tradition have changed over time, many aspects remain the same. The boarding process is no longer used, but the Boatswain’s Mates today are held to the same standard as Boatswain’s Mates of the past.

“You have to be a knowledgeable and competent Boatswain’s Mate,” said Boatswain’s Mate 2nd Class Alexander Trujillo. “You have to be someone that can do the job and do it well. You have to be able to handle line and lead people before you earn the right to get the crossed anchors.”

The crossed anchors carry a lot of weight on the ship, but its reach isn’t limited to only life inside the Navy.

“I was at a gym, and a man in his 50s walked into the locker room,” said Brown. “I remember hearing someone yell ‘BOATS.’ It caught me off guard. I looked up and he told me that he was a Boatswain’s Mate when he was in the Navy. We got to talking and shared some sea stories. That wouldn’t have happened if we didn’t have our crossed anchor tattoos. The crossed anchors develop an immediate connection between Boatswain’s Mates of the past with Boatswain’s Mates of today.”

Like most things in the Navy, the small details tell a larger story. The hand the tattoo is worn on is indicates where a Boatswain’s Mate has been.

“The hand the tattoo is on is symbolic of which coast the Boatswain’s Mate sails on,” said Trujillo. “The right hand represents the East Coast and the left symbolizes the West Coast.”

In addition to telling the story of the Boatswain’s Mate, the tattoo has the power to link former service members as well as former family members whose military background was previously unknown.

“After I got my anchors I found out that my great uncle was a Boatswain’s Mate during World War II,” said Boatswain’s Mate 3rd Class Travis Lightle. “It was a really cool thing to share with him. We both have our anchors.”

Bonds like the one Lightle experienced are just one way naval tradition can bring together Sailors from all different generations. While the Navy is an ever-changing organization, the links to the past will always have a place in today’s Navy.

For more news on John C. Stennis, visit http://www.stennis.navy.mil or follow along on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/stennis74.

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Story by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Apprentice Joshua Leonard

PACIFIC OCEAN – The John C. Stennis Center for Public Service Leadership sponsored the annual John C. Stennis Leadership Awards ceremony July 19, during which the Straight Furrow, Look Ahead and Constitution awards recognized Sailors who have performed at a high level and exhibited the most exceptional leadership skills.

Cmdr. Rodney Moss, the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis’ (CVN 74) weapons officer, referred to as GunBoss, and Straight Furrow award winner, exemplifies what a strong leader can be, but it’s important to remember leadership is not exclusive to those at Moss’ level. Every Sailor aboard John C. Stennis can affect the command by practicing leadership skills.

“Something I tell all my Sailors is that they’re all leaders,” said Moss. “It doesn’t matter the rank or position. It’s about seeing something, saying something and doing the right thing because there is always an opportunity to do the right thing. That was one of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s legacies of leaning forward. Then you take Senator John C. Stennis and all the amazing things he did. Those are the attributes and qualities of a leader.”

Moss also stated that small changes to daily routines or adapting to new situations sets an example for others to follow.

“Leadership starts with being a leader of yourself,” said Moss. “Be on time, in the right uniform, have courtesy and get your warfare pin. Instead of grumbling and complaining, step up and be a leader. Something as simple as seeing a piece of paper on the floor and picking it up can make you someone that others want to emulate.”

Someone Sailors want to emulate is Master Chief Melissa Warren, the administration department leading chief petty officer and recipient of the Look Ahead award.

“My Sailors understand that if they have a problem I’m not going to shut them down, or if they have a question I’m not going to turn them away,” said Warren. “I want them to know their time and their opinions are valued. I think my Sailors treat each other the same way.”

Warren also explained that listening and understanding the people around you is a vital skill, but it must be matched with humility and the ability to receive feedback about yourself.

“Accept feedback and drop your ego,” said Warren. “It’s important to welcome critiques and criticism to grow as not only a leader, but also as a person.”

For many, the growing process never ends and the Sailors that have received awards for their leadership ability still recognize that their journey is not yet complete.

“Even when you’re a leader of others, it’s important to realize that you can still learn from other people,” said Ship’s Serviceman 1st Class Michael Burdios, the training department leading petty officer, and Constitution award recipient. “Every Sailor on board has something to teach me.”

Teaching is a necessary skill for a leader to possess. Burdios and Moss both agree that every Sailor aboard has the capability to develop leadership techniques.

“Everybody has the potential to be a leader,” said Moss. “Most people don’t practice their leadership skills. People are told they can’t be leaders for one reason or another, or they feel like they aren’t valued. When they’re given the opportunity to be a leader, they will succeed.”

Success isn’t always something that comes right away. Failure can be devastating, but also a powerful learning tool if approached with the right mentality.

“It’s like a game of basketball,” said Burdios. “If you miss a layup with five seconds left in the game, the game isn’t over. There’s still time left on the clock. You just have to give 110% next time to make sure you don’t miss the next shot.”

The recipients said winning an award for your leadership is an honor that might take years to earn, but the small reward of helping a shipmate is something that can be earned in a single moment. What may seem like a small act might make a world of difference to someone else, and true leaders make that difference.

For more news on John C. Stennis, visit http://navy.mil/local/cvn74/ or follow along on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/stennis74.

Story by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class David A. Brandenburg

NORTH ISLAND, Calif. – A change of command ceremony was held in the hangar bay onboard the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74), Aug. 3.

Capt. Randall W. Peck relieved Capt. Gregory C. Huffman as commanding officer of John C. Stennis.

Guest speaker Congressman Gregg Harper, U.S. Representative for Mississippi’s 3rd Congressional District, praised Huffman on his accomplishments as commanding officer of John C. Stennis as well as his naval career.
“[Capt. Huffman’s] service has been above and beyond the call of duty,” said Harper. “We are all grateful for his years of honorable and distinguished leadership…Senator [Stennis] always said good leaders “Look Ahead”, and I feel confident that some of [Capt. Huffman’s] brightest days are ahead.”

During his speech, Huffman thanked the crew and credited his Sailors for everything accomplished during his time onboard.

“The standard has been set, and it is because of all of the hard work you’ve put in the last few years. You’ve blown everything we’ve done right out of the water,” said Huffman. “The Stennis is one of the best warships in the fleet, and it’s all due to your effort and dedication to excellence. Thank you for your outstanding service, and a job well done.”

Peck, from Houston, received his commission upon graduating from the Naval Academy in 1991. He was designated as a Naval Flight Officer after completing flight training at Naval Air Station Miramar in 1993.
Peck served as the commanding officer of the Carrier Airborne Early Warning (VAW) 112 “Golden Hawks” squadron from September 2009 to December 2010, executive officer of the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS
Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) from 2014 to 2016, then as the commanding officer of the San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock ship USS Mesa Verde (LPD 19) from February 2016 to May 2017.
“It is an honor to take command from Capt. Huffman, and a privilege to take charge of this outstanding crew,” said Peck. “Sailors are the motive force behind any successful warship and this crew is ready; we are combat focused, and I look forward to continuing the high standards of excellence while increasing our combat readiness to overcome any challenge that the future holds.”

Before departing the ship one final time, Huffman stopped in the ship’s museum to carve his initials into a replica Senate desk. Since the Civil War, senators have carved their initials into their desks on the Senate floor as they leave office; each of Stennis’ commanding officers has followed this tradition to pay homage to Senator John C. Stennis.

Providing a combat-ready force to protect collective maritime interests, John C. Stennis is currently conducting operations to maintain readiness.
For more news on John C. Stennis, visit http://www.stennis.navy.mil or follow along on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/stennis74.

Story by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class David A. Brandenburg

BREMERTON, Wash. – Picture this; you leave from work the same way and around the same time as any other day. As you approach an intersection the light turns yellow, you slow down but the car in front of you speeds up to make it just as another car comes speeding through, smashing the car in front of you. In a matter of seconds, a peaceful drive home turns into a moment of chaos and in your mind you have a choice; react and respond to possibly save lives, or stay and watch. An unknown test and challenge presents itself, “Can I save a life? Can I perform in an uncertain situation?” What do you do?

Although the scenario is chaotic and not a daily occurrence, the uncertainty of life can rear its ugly head at any time during your day in the military. For Maj. Brian Chontosh, retired Marine, Navy Cross recipient and author, the term ‘readiness mindset’ is how he makes sense of living his life, ready for anything. In Chontosh’s article “Performance on Demand,” he encourages everyone to build their mindset of readiness by approaching everyday life “as a process of accruing experiences in the event we are tested without warning.”

“Knowing yourself and knowing each other in various times of uncertainty, confusion, demand, exertion… is critical,” said Chontosh. “How else can you create a familiarity and comfort with something you didn’t initially know? Thinking you know who you are in a scenario versus actually knowing is often confused by too many.”

Performance on demand is a term that Chontosh has adopted throughout his life. Having the capacity to demand excellence of himself through any situation and in any environment prepares him for the worst even in the best of situations.

“The test or evaluation is some artificiality that gets measured,” said Chontosh. “Last time I checked, Mother Nature doesn’t really care so much about your measurements. Neither does ‘Murphy’. Summits are optional, coming down is mandatory.”

Having confidence in your own training and capabilities, and treating everyday situations as a chance to excel with pride in a job well done, allows for a mindset to perform on demand for anything in the military, and in life.

“Critical challenges rarely come with adequate forewarning. Performance on demand is the act of producing results PERIOD. Right here, right now,” said Chontosh.

“I also don’t try to do monumental things. It’s like someone who needs to lose 50 pounds, sounds like a lot and it’s a big ordeal. Fifty pounds sounds like [half a pound] repeated a few times,” said Chontosh. “Reduce things down to simple tasks that can get small wins, and then repeat. The problem is that everyone wants to win the 400-million-dollar Powerball right now.”

Staying physically fit, forging mental toughness through learning of any kind and constantly taking on new challenges is something anyone can do. For the single-parent service member who challenges balancing duty with appointments, to the senior officer working 10-plus hours a day to finish their career milestone qualifications, taking time to invest in yourself to be able to perform at ‘your’ highest level is something everyone should strive for.

“I tell myself all the time – all you need to do in this moment is ‘suck less’ than you might otherwise. It’s a healthier twist than ‘do a little better’. I just try to suck a little less than I did yesterday,” said Chontosh.

“I need a lot of work! I realize that, and I also give myself the proper credit at saying, ‘hey, you are also a good man and have come a long way’.” added Chontosh. “I think acceptance and being ok with yourself is part of the first few steps. Awareness obviously has to lie in there, but I’m not convinced it is in any specific order.”

Taking life’s lessons, the positives and negatives, successes and failures, and sharing them with others only spreads a mindset to everyone you work with, serve with, and care for. Passing the knowledge just builds a stronger tribe of people everyone can share their life with. Sticking to the same script doesn’t always ensure growth for those you may lead.

“You don’t need to make things mundane, tedious, or more than what they are,” said Chontosh. “Just teach personal accountability, personal pride, and the value of service, and do the right thing at the moment. Period. It doesn’t matter yesterday or tomorrow, what you would have or should have or could have, or if you’re this or that. Do your duty now; with excellence.”

For more news on John C. Stennis, visit http://www.stennis.navy.mil or follow along on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/stennis74.

Story by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Apprentice Joshua L. Leonard

BREMERTON, Wash – The sounds of bowling pins crashing to the ground and friends chatting over free pizza fills the halls of the recreation center during a monthly bowling tournament held by Morale, Welfare, and Recreation (MWR), on Naval Base Kitsap-Bremerton, July 18.

Matthew Garvin, the mastermind behind the monthly bowling tournament and competitor in the nights festivities, was happy with the turnout during the event.

“I try to do a bowling tournament once a month,” said Garvin, Afloat MWR director. “We get anywhere between six and 15 teams when we hold these bowling tournaments.”

Though the overall event focused on morale building and having a good time with friends, however, competitive spirits ran high.

“After the first game starts, things start to get a little heated between the teams,” said Garvin. “It starts to get really competitive. I think that helps the Sailors blow off some steam.”

In addition to the competitive spirit, the participants also bonded with each other.

“Things like this help us bond as a division,” said Information Systems Technician 3rd Class Alejandra Navarro. “It also helps us relieve stress from things that happen in our everyday lives and build up morale within our division.”

Navarro wasn’t the only person bonding with friends and coworkers. Airman Dalton Lago spent the night with not just friends and coworkers, but with people that he considers family.

“I’m out here with friends, but I consider them family,” said Lago. “So, I guess you could say I’m out here with my family.”

MWR plans on hosting more bowling tournaments in the future. Garvin expects turnout to continue increasing each month.

“I’m hoping to get 20 teams next time,” said Garvin. “If we get more teams I can start hosting these at off base bowling facilities.”

Navy MWRs provide active-duty Sailors and their families with recreational, social and community activities aimed at improving their overall well-being.

For more news on John C. Stennis, visit http://www.stennis.navy.mil or follow along on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/stennis74.

Story by Mass Communication 3rd Class Grant G. Grady

BREMERTON, Wash. – “Ding-ding, ding-ding,” sounds the bell on the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74). Sailors scurry to their respective spaces with hot coffee in hands. “Set Material Condition Hour (MCH),” bellows the Petty Officer of the Watch. John C. Stennis Sailors start the work day by digging out their foxtails and dust pans, but do they know the plan to conduct MCH?

MCH is more than just a quick sweep and swab of the deck. A set of clear day-to-day guidelines exist in Executive Officer (XO) Gram 9-17 Material Condition Hour.

For example, Monday focuses on those hard to reach areas and cleaning the decks with warm soapy water. Thursdays Sailors clean vents, filters, doors and hatches. The XO gram sets these daily guidelines to make sure John C. Stennis Sailors don’t miss any spots in their spaces.

Furthermore, the XO gram states how Sailors should conduct traffic during MCH.
The starboard passageways secure on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. The portside passageways secure on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. This allows Sailors to deep clean their spaces without having traffic slowing the process.

However, major projects on highly transited areas like the 03 level and 2nd deck passageways have a different set of guidelines.

Major stripping, waxing or buffing on those levels takes place after taps or 30 minutes after flight operations until 0500 the next day.

The XO Gram exists to guide John C. Stennis on how to keep a high standard of material condition. It helps John C. Stennis Sailors conduct MCH in an orderly and effective manner.

Navy ships across the fleet participate in MCH to keep their ships clean and safe. MCH not only keeps the ship looking good, but contributes to damage control safety by eliminating hazards ranging from fire to electrical.

For more information, view XO Gram 9-17 Material Condition Hour in the command directives on the John C. Stennis homepage.
For more news on John C. Stennis, visit http://www.stennis.navy.mil or follow along on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/stennis74, Twitter @stennis74, or Instagram @stennisCVN74.

Story by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Apprentice Joshua Leonard

PACIFIC OCEAN – For midshipmen, experience in the fleet is an invaluable asset. It can help them determine which path they want to follow as their naval careers progress, and it helps them better understand the world they will be serving in when they graduate from the Navy Recruit Officer Training Command (NROTC) program.

Seventeen midshipmen from universities ranging from the University of Southern California to Virginia Tech joined the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74), June 14, for their summer cruise.

The midshipmen summer cruise is similar to a summer internship, or a work-study program. While NROTC programs provide relevant military training, there is no substitution for fleet experience.

“This allows them to get out to sea, and be with Sailors in the fleet, both enlisted and officers.” said Lt. Michael Woodward, a flight officer assigned to John C. Stennis and midshipmen training officer for the NROTC cruise. “The other thing it does is allow Midshipmen from different NROTC programs to have a uniform experience.”

The Sailors aboard John C. Stennis had the opportunity to impact the Midshipman’s experience at sea.

“The biggest take away from my cruise is just the attitude,” said Dugan McAdams, a Midshipman 2nd Class from Ohio State University. “The team aspect is so strong, everyone is willing to help each other.”
With almost every type of naval officer assigned to the crew, John C. Stennis offers a unique learning environment for the midshipmen.

“My cruise last year was structured in a different way,” said McAdams. “We had specific times where we were going to meet with officers in different department. Here it’s a much more open experience. Earlier today I ran into a few traditional surface warfare officers (SWO) on the bridge and talked to them about the SWO community.”

McAdams said that being aboard John C. Stennis and exploring the different departments has made him look at officer programs differently. The nuclear program was something he wasn’t considering previously, but after watching how the program operates, McAdams said, it now seems like a more desirable career path. However, he is still currently pursuing a career in aviation.

Regardless of which NROTC program the midshipmen are from, being on John C. Stennis has given them the opportunity to learn how the fleet operates and experience a hands-on look at each of the Navy’s different career paths.

For more news on John C. Stennis, visit http://www.stennis.navy.mil or follow along on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/stennis74.

Story by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class William Rosencrans

PACIFIC OCEAN – A splash of color on canvas and the murmur of Sailor-artists filled the aft mess decks as Sailors enjoyed nachos and refreshments during the first paint and dip event held by the Second Class Petty Officer Association (SCPOA), aboard the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis, June 22.

Event coordinator, Culinary Specialist 2nd Class Cymone Surrell-Morris, explained the event as “an opportunity for Sailors to release creative energy and de-stress.”

SCPOA provided everything the aspiring artists needed to start a work of art, including paint, brushes, canvases, instruction and even nachos to fill the creative appetite. Sailors from various rates and ranks attended the festivities.

“I just enjoyed how simple and relaxing the event was,” said Yeoman Seaman Manuel Gandia. “With how stressful life can be on a ship, this event provided a calm setting that allowed me a moment to unwind.”

Culinary Specialist 2nd Class Garvin Williams, president of the SCPOA, modeled the event after a similar paint and sip experience. Williams felt it was important to imitate the atmosphere of those events as best as possible to provide an immersive and stress-relieving experience. “Our goal is to boost morale [of the crew] and let everyone relax and enjoy refreshments,” said Williams.

Turn out for the event was much larger than expected and prompted Williams to consider more events of this type in the future. “We will definitely have more during Composite Training Unit Exercise (COMTUEX) and of course deployment,” said Williams.

In keeping with the mission of SCPOA to support command events to increase morale and community outreach projects, Sailors aboard John C. Stennis can look forward to future painting and crafting events in the upcoming underway periods.

For more news on John C. Stennis, visit http://www.stennis.navy.mil or follow along on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/stennis74.

Story by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Apprentice Joshua L. Leonard

PACIFIC OCEAN – Sailors aboard the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) met with members of various organizations during a health fair hosted by the health promotions committee in the hangar bay, June 24.

Sailors visited booths with topics ranging from physical fitness to dental health. Each booth gave Sailors advice and education on how to stay healthy on shore and at sea.

“The health fair is here to raise awareness on a variety of different health topics,” said Lt. Blaze Chatham, a medical service corps officer and health promotions coordinator. “We’re talking about everything from dental health to injury prevention. We’re focusing on common issues that Sailors have that can effect their health and their life.”

Another area of focus was physical fitness, which Aviation Boatswain’s Mate (Handling) Airman Grace Howard felt was one of the more beneficial parts of the event.

“One of the biggest takeaways I had was the physical fitness presentation,” said Howard. “They showed us the proper way to lift weights. I also really enjoyed the stress management portion of the night as well.”

In addition to educating shipmates on their health, Sailors appreciated feedback about how to make the ship a healthier environment.
“I decided to make a survey of healthy food options that could be brought into the ship’s store,” said Ensign Paul Fogolin, a supply officer aboard John C. Stennis. “The main goal is to find out what healthy options Sailors want, so we can bring it in and make it available to them.”
The health fair also encouraged Sailors to ask right away if they had health questions.

“The ship has a lot of resources where they can get health information outside of events like this,” said Chatham. “This is the first health fair since I’ve been here. We generally put on one or two events a month, in addition to all the services on board, such as chaplains and psychologists for stress issues and tobacco cessation programs for Sailors looking to quit tobacco use.”

For more news on John C. Stennis, visit http://www.stennis.navy.mil or follow along on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/stennis74.

Story by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Apprentice Joshua L. Leonard

PACIFIC OCEAN – Sailors aboard the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) met with members of various organizations during a health fair hosted by the health promotions committee in the hangar bay, June 24.

Sailors visited booths with topics ranging from physical fitness to dental health. Each booth gave Sailors advice and education on how to stay healthy on shore and at sea.

“The health fair is here to raise awareness on a variety of different health topics,” said Lt. Blaze Chatham, a medical service corps officer and health promotions coordinator. “We’re talking about everything from dental health to injury prevention. We’re focusing on common issues that Sailors have that can effect their health and their life.”

Another area of focus was physical fitness, which Aviation Boatswain’s Mate (Handling) Airman Grace Howard felt was one of the more beneficial parts of the event.

“One of the biggest takeaways I had was the physical fitness presentation,” said Howard. “They showed us the proper way to lift weights. I also really enjoyed the stress management portion of the night as well.”

In addition to educating shipmates on their health, Sailors appreciated feedback about how to make the ship a healthier environment.
“I decided to make a survey of healthy food options that could be brought into the ship’s store,” said Ensign Paul Fogolin, a supply officer aboard John C. Stennis. “The main goal is to find out what healthy options Sailors want, so we can bring it in and make it available to them.”
The health fair also encouraged Sailors to ask right away if they had health questions.

“The ship has a lot of resources where they can get health information outside of events like this,” said Chatham. “This is the first health fair since I’ve been here. We generally put on one or two events a month, in addition to all the services on board, such as chaplains and psychologists for stress issues and tobacco cessation programs for Sailors looking to quit tobacco use.”

For more news on John C. Stennis, visit http://www.stennis.navy.mil or follow along on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/stennis74.

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