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Story by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class William Ford

BREMERTON, Wash. – Sailors aboard USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) commemorated the 76th anniversary of the attacks on Pearl Harbor and Oahu, and celebrated the ship’s 22nd commissioning anniversary with an event in the ship’s hangar bay, Dec. 7.
During the ceremony, Commanding Officer Capt. Greg Huffman spoke about the attacks that precipitated the U.S.’s entry into World War II as well as John C. Stennis’ history since its commissioning on Dec. 9, 1995.

The attack on Pearl Harbor Dec. 7, 1941, was a costly one for the U.S. Pacific Fleet, and would shape the Navy as it is known today. During the attack, more than 2,000 American lives were lost, 21 U.S. Navy ships were sunk or damaged, and numerous aircraft were destroyed. In response, the Navy expanded its fleet’s capabilities, which led to the more advanced aircraft carriers that it has today.

John C. Stennis, the seventh Nimitz-class aircraft carrier, traveled to Hawaii to participate in the commemoration of the 75th anniversary of the bombing of Pearl Harbor last year.
“It was such a great honor to be in Pearl Harbor for the 75th anniversary,” said Air Traffic Controller 3rd Class Dustin Reyes. “Any chance you get to honor those who have served before you or talk with someone who’s fought for this country is a real honor. I’m just glad I was able to take part in it.”
During John C. Stennis’ visit to Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, the ship hosted 2,208 visitors, including retired Army National Guard Col. Donald “Doc” E. Ballard, a Vietnam War Medal of Honor recipient, retired Air Force Col. Bud Anderson, a three-time ace during World War II, veterans, and their family and friends while in port from Dec. 3-8 of last year.
The more than 70,000 crewmembers that have served on board John C. Stennis have fought for this country like the veterans that came before them.

The construction of John C. Stennis began at Newport News Shipbuilding Company March 29, 1988, the ship’s keel was laid March 13, 1991, and the ship was christened Nov. 11, 1993. Following sea trials, the ship deployed to the Persian Gulf Feb. 26, 1998, beginning an eventful career.

Since then the ship has completed nine deployments, launched strikes against Al-Qaeda after the 9/11 attacks, led a rescue operation of the Iranian fishing vessel Al Mulahi from pirates, and completed a litany of exercises to showcase strength in the Middle East and Pacific.
As John C. Stennis continues preparing for its next deployment, Sailors remember the sacrifices made by those service members on that day that shall live in infamy, and will continue to protect America and her interests at home and abroad.
John C. Stennis is in port conducting routine training as it continues preparing for its next scheduled deployment.

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

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Story by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Mike Pernick

BREMERTON, Wash. – USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) frocked nearly 300 new petty officers during a ceremony in the ship’s hangar bay, Nov. 30.

Frocking is a naval tradition authorizing Sailors selected for advancement to wear the uniform and assume the responsibilities of the next higher rank prior to their official promotion date.

Capt. Greg Huffman, John C. Stennis’ commanding officer, congratulated each of the 273 petty officers with a handshake while presenting them with their frocking letter in front of the gathered crew, friends and family.

“It was a great experience to be a part of the ceremony,” said newly frocked Damage Controlman 3rd Class Daniel Shepherd, from Cincinnati. “Besides studying a lot, I would credit a lot of my advancement to the other third class petty officers that I work with; they taught me most of what I know.”

Promotions are based on a combination of job performance and scores on advancement exams.

“If I could give anyone advice on how to advance I would tell them to work hard,” said newly frocked Personnel Specialist 2nd Class Wenhao Tong, from Qing Dao, China. “Studying can and will take you far but knowing your job inside and out will help you advance, too.”
For some Sailors, the excitement hasn’t slowed down since they were first aware of their advancement.

“I was really excited when I heard my name over the 1MC,” said Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class Ashley Fiedler, from Holdrege, Nebraska. “I wasn’t sure how well I did on the exam so when I heard my name I was really happy and I almost cried. Today was great and I was glad to be a part of the ceremony.”

After the ceremony, the newly frocked petty officers spent time with friends and family taking photos, exchanging handshakes and hugs before heading back to their departments ready to take on their new roles.

John C. Stennis is in port conducting routine training as it continues preparing for its next scheduled deployment.
For more news from 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 Mike Pernick

BREMERTON, Wash. – USS John C. Stennis’ (CVN 74) Multi-Cultural Heritage Committee (MCHC) held a ceremony commemorating National American Indian and Native Alaskan Heritage Month in the ship’s hangar bay, Nov. 21.

The ceremony featured Sailors taking the stage to speak about American Indian contributions from history and stories from Sailors who grew up with American Indian heritage.
“It’s important to know that we’re all different,” said Yeoman 3rd Class Jazmin Maria, president of MCHC, from Robbins, North Carolina. “We had a pretty good turnout and support from Native American speakers that come from different backgrounds and cultures which is important because the Navy is so diverse.”
The final speaker of the ceremony, Yeoman 3rd Class Katlynn Joe, from Upper Fruitland, New Mexico, a member of the Navajo tribe, recounted Sailors with stories of her upbringing on a Native American reservation.
“It lets people know that Native Americans are people just like you and me,” said Joe. “It also helps people realize that there are many different tribes and languages aside from the one I belong to.”
Joe also said that there is a certain pride she feels from being of American Indian descent.

“I love speaking my native language, the music, stories and other traditions my grandparents taught me when I was young,” said Joe.

She also said it’s great to be able to visit her ancestor’s hometown where she was able to see how they were raised and learn about the traditions they grew up on.

John C. Stennis is in port conducting routine training as it continues preparing for its next scheduled deployment.

For more news from 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 Susan C. Damman

BREMERTON, Wash. – Sailors stationed aboard USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) volunteered at ten community service (COMSERV) events in the local community, Nov. 7-16.

The group of Sailors, assigned to USS John C. Stennis beach detachment, cleaned up litter along the highway, visited with veterans, and volunteered at a food bank.

Volunteers visited the Washington State Veterans Home twice during their community coffee time to speak with residents and play bingo. The visit stood out among the Sailors for being able to interact with veterans on a personal level.

“Meeting with the veterans was my favorite [COMSERV],” said Cryptologic Technician (Technical) Seaman Chase Richter, from Taylor, Texas. “I liked to hear about their service and where they’ve been. Meeting these men and women really humbled me. It made me happy and proud to serve our country.”

Sailors also cleaned up a two-mile stretch of Washington State Highway 3 near Silverdale on two separate days removing 18 bags worth of litter.

Sailors volunteered at the Bremerton Foodline six times, raking leaves, performing yard work, building holiday food baskets, preparing food for distribution, cleaning and helping out in whatever way they could.

The beach detachment consists of Sailors who coordinate logistics or other requirements, who are in transit to or from the command, or who are assigned due to other circumstances requiring them to stay ashore during an underway period.

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 Mike Pernick

BREMERTON, Wash. – USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) returned from a two-week underway, Nov. 16, after completing a busy schedule of events as it continues in its basic phase training.

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

“This underway gave the crew a chance to work on perfecting a wide range of skills,” said Capt. Greg Huffman, John C. Stennis’ commanding officer. “We didn’t do any fixed-wing flight operations, which gave us a chance to really dig-in and practice many of the basic skills essential to navigate and operate a warship safely wherever we may be called on to go.”

The ship conducted multiple general quarters drills, with teams assigned to repair lockers throughout the ship fighting simulated fires, flooding and structural damage. They also spent time making sure they could rapidly increase the ship’s condition of material readiness, closing water-tight hatches and doors to increase ship’s survivability in case of damage.

John C. Stennis also exercised its ability to respond to mass casualties in case of an aircraft or other accident which injures a large number of Sailors. This complex evolution requires participation of the whole crew working together to rescue, transport and treat their shipmates.

To be ready to protect the ship from damage from hostile forces, the crew put some of its self-defense capabilities to the test, first with live-fire maintenance and then by engaging a towed target with its close in weapons system (CIWS).

Working alongside the Washington Army National Guard, John C. Stennis conducted daylight landing qualifications, giving both the Army pilots and the ship’s crew a chance to practice important joint interoperability skills by conducting shipboard landings and takeoffs. The pilots conducted multiple approaches and landings flying CH-47 Chinooks and UH-60 Blackhawks.

The crew also held a Veterans Day 5k run to honor the veterans who preceded them in service to the country, as well as a burial at sea to lay several Navy Veterans who had passed away to rest. Several crewmembers were baptized by the ship’s chaplains on the flight deck. John C. Stennis even took the chance to foster some friendly competition, hosting both damage control Olympics between repair lockers and a cooking competition for its supply department Sailors.

The ship also hosted several Sailors and personnel from other commands to help them gain experience with shipboard life, including Navy chaplain candidates, Judge Advocate General officers, a Naval Criminal Investigative Service agent, and officers from USS Gridley (DDG 101).

“I was given the opportunity to come aboard Stennis to learn and experience the roles and duties of a judge advocate general (JAG) on a ship as well as see what it’s like to live onboard,” said Lt. Laura DellAntonio, trial counsel, from the Regional Legal Service Office Northwest, located in Bremerton. “I’ve learned how JAG’s are utilized on a ship and it’s been very interesting to see all of the different jobs onboard and observe how everyone works together.”

John C. Stennis returned to port to prepare for future operations and its next scheduled deployment.

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 Susan C. Damman

PACIFIC OCEAN – Sailors aboard USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) conducted multiple weapons training evolutions in November while underway as part of the ship’s work-up cycle.

The training included a pre-action aim calibration fire (PACFIRE) maintenance check on the close-in weapon systems (CIWS), a towed-destructible unit (TDU) live engagement and a crew-served weapons live-fire training exercise.
PACFIRE was a manual test in which Sailors tested different rates and modes of fire on the CIWS. Then during the TDU evolution, the crew monitored the CIWS as it automatically detected and engaged a drone simulating a missile.

“When you have actual live targets, you’re testing the full capabilities of the systems,” said Fire Controlman 1st Class Tyler Eckard, from Daytona Beach, Florida, leading petty officer of Combat Systems-7 division. “Simulations can only go so far.”

Eckard also said this training was especially helpful for new personnel, who were able to fully operate the equipment for the first time. To have the ability to press the button and watch the systems respond was a valuable learning experience.

These complex evolutions required extensive planning and coordination among the various departments involved. Combat Systems department is in charge of maintaining and operating the CIWS. Weapons department provided the necessary ammunition for the exercises. Operations department reserved the air and sea space and, on the day of the event, monitored the range to ensure it was clear of all air and surface contacts. Operations department was also in charge of directing the jet that towed the drone used in the TDU live engagement, while the Security division ensured personnel stayed clear of the weapons sponsons during the exercises. Communication and teamwork between departments was key to the success of the training evolutions.

“Communication is crucial in any maintenance evolution or training exercise,” said Ensign Beau Denson, a tactical action officer in the Operations department, from Honolulu. “Anytime we accomplish a successful live-fire exercise it establishes trust in the weapon systems and our sister Combat Systems and Weapons departments. It is fantastic when the hard work of the team pays off with accomplishing the end goal of a successful engagement.”

Weapons department also ran a crew-served weapons live-fire exercise on the ship’s fantail as a culmination of ongoing weapon handling training. The exercise was important for Sailors to complete their watchstanding qualifications on the .50-caliber and M240B machine guns.

“A live-fire is a lot more fast paced and you’re meant to be under pressure,” said Aviation Ordnanceman 3rd Class Richard Spence, from Holley, New York. “People have to be quick and know what they’re doing. We put people under a little more pressure during the live-fire, because they should be able to handle that pressure during an actual threat.”

John C. Stennis is in port conducting routine training as the ship continues preparing for its next scheduled deployment.

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 Susan C. Damman

PACIFIC OCEAN – Sailors aboard USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) conducted multiple weapons training evolutions in November while underway as part of the ship’s work-up cycle.

The training included a pre-action aim calibration fire (PACFIRE) maintenance check on the close-in weapon systems (CIWS), a towed-destructible unit (TDU) live engagement and a crew-served weapons live-fire training exercise.
PACFIRE was a manual test in which Sailors tested different rates and modes of fire on the CIWS. Then during the TDU evolution, the crew monitored the CIWS as it automatically detected and engaged a drone simulating a missile.

“When you have actual live targets, you’re testing the full capabilities of the systems,” said Fire Controlman 1st Class Tyler Eckard, from Daytona Beach, Florida, leading petty officer of Combat Systems-7 division. “Simulations can only go so far.”

Eckard also said this training was especially helpful for new personnel, who were able to fully operate the equipment for the first time. To have the ability to press the button and watch the systems respond was a valuable learning experience.

These complex evolutions required extensive planning and coordination among the various departments involved. Combat Systems department is in charge of maintaining and operating the CIWS. Weapons department provided the necessary ammunition for the exercises. Operations department reserved the air and sea space and, on the day of the event, monitored the range to ensure it was clear of all air and surface contacts. Operations department was also in charge of directing the jet that towed the drone used in the TDU live engagement, while the Security division ensured personnel stayed clear of the weapons sponsons during the exercises. Communication and teamwork between departments was key to the success of the training evolutions.

“Communication is crucial in any maintenance evolution or training exercise,” said Ensign Beau Denson, a tactical action officer in the Operations department, from Honolulu. “Anytime we accomplish a successful live-fire exercise it establishes trust in the weapon systems and our sister Combat Systems and Weapons departments. It is fantastic when the hard work of the team pays off with accomplishing the end goal of a successful engagement.”

Weapons department also ran a crew-served weapons live-fire exercise on the ship’s fantail as a culmination of ongoing weapon handling training. The exercise was important for Sailors to complete their watchstanding qualifications on the .50-caliber and M240B machine guns.

“A live-fire is a lot more fast paced and you’re meant to be under pressure,” said Aviation Ordnanceman 3rd Class Richard Spence, from Holley, New York. “People have to be quick and know what they’re doing. We put people under a little more pressure during the live-fire, because they should be able to handle that pressure during an actual threat.”

John C. Stennis is in port conducting routine training as the ship continues preparing for its next scheduled deployment.

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 3rd Class Mike Pernick

PUGET SOUND – USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) conducted flight-deck landing qualifications (DLQ) with the Washington Army National Guard (WA ARNG), 1st General Support Aviation Battalion (GSAB), 168th Aviation Regiment, Nov. 16.

The GSAB, based out of Joint Base Lewis-McChord, practiced landing a CH-47F Chinook and three UH-60L Blackhawk helicopters on John C. Stennis’ flight deck while the ship transited through the Strait of Juan de Fuca and Puget Sound. This is the second consecutive year that John C. Stennis has participated in this training with WA ARNG.

“The evolution is really a win-win as it provides an excellent opportunity for both the crew of John C. Stennis, as well as the flight crews from the 1-168th GSAB,” said Lt. John Olsen, assistant air-operations officer, from Staten Island, New York. “Departments gained valuable training from working with the much larger rotary wing platform of the CH-47F Chinook, while continuing to refine our procedures for conducting DLQ’s with the familiar H-60 platform.”

Olsen also said local National Guardsmen benefit from landing aircraft on a moving Navy ship in the case of an emergency or natural disaster and communicating tactics, technique and procedures.

“Deck landings and shipboard operations here in the U.S. directly help maintain our war-fighting mission overseas as we have conducted deck landings on our last two deployments,” said Chief Warrant Officer 5 Noel Larson, aviation standardization officer, WA ARNG. “It also benefits our crewmembers by exposing us to joint operations and seeing the service differences and similarities.”

Larson also said that this training helps them maintain proficiency in domestic operations here in Washington. In the event of an earthquake, deck landings and shipboard operations are critical.
John C. Stennis was underway conducting routine training as it continues preparing for its next scheduled deployment.

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 3rd Class William Ford

PACIFIC OCEAN – A savory aroma of freshly prepared dishes wafted throughout the aft mess decks aboard USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) as the ship held a “Best of the Mess” culinary competition, Nov. 13.
Culinary Specialist 1st Class David Houchins, the ship’s food service division leading petty officer, hosted the event featuring six teams from various galleys around the ship. The teams competed against one another in a competition that was judged on appearance, flavor, consistency and originality.
“This competition is a huge morale booster and an excellent training evolution for the culinary specialists to showcase their culinary artistry,” said Houchins. “Imagine, for a moment, a finely decorated plate giving way to a delicious meal that could only be found in one of the most prestigious restaurants in the world. Now open your eyes and see that very plate on a U.S. Navy warship, and that is exactly what the judges experience during the competition.”
Each team was required to include chicken, spinach, mozzarella cheese and garbanzo beans in their dish, and had to use one additional ingredient found onboard, whether it be from the mess decks, vending machines or the ship’s store.
Culinary Specialist 3rd Class Sanka Harris said his team created a mozzarella and spinach stuffed butterfly chicken breast with a garbanzo bean dipping sauce for their main entrée, also known as the “Miami Hurricane,” in honor of Harris’s hometown of Miami. “For dessert we made a Georgia Bulldog hush puppy made of macadamia nut cookies dipped in a batter of pancake mix, milk, cinnamon and brown sugar, and fried until golden brown. And to top it off, we provided a tasty Chicago sundae which consisted of Snickers, vanilla ice cream, milk and a cherry on top.”
Harris’s team, from the ship’s aft galley, included Culinary Specialist 3rd Class Laquintis James, from Chicago, and Culinary Specialist Seaman Andre Morrison, from Atlanta, and received a score of 80 percent from the judges to take home first place.
“My team wanted to prove to all of the messes that you can bring diversity into any dish and make it amazing,” said Harris. “It felt great to win because there was a lot of amazing competition out there from the other messes, however, we were very proud and confident in each of our dishes.”
The culinary competition was the ship’s first since completing its six-month planned incremental availability, and the first of many to come according to Houchins.
John C. Stennis is underway conducting routine training as it continues preparing for its next scheduled deployment.
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 3rd Class Cole C. Pielop

PACIFIC OCEAN – When Sailors join the service they raise their hand and swear to serve a higher purpose, but for three Sailors who got underway aboard USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) Nov. 3, it was to serve a higher calling.

Lt. Sarah Gomez-Lorraine, Lt. j.g. Jerry Roberts and Lt. j.g. Frank Tillotson are inactive reserve Sailors enrolled in chaplain candidate school.
The chaplain candidates, each with different religious backgrounds and prior enlisted service in the Marine Corps, Army and Navy, came together on the underway to gain on-the-job experience and use the skills they learned during the first part of their chaplain candidate schooling.
“My mission here is to use what we’ve been trained in and actually see it in action,” said Gomez-Lorraine, a prior enlisted Sailor, from Kodiak Island, Alaska. “Now that I’m on a ship with over 3,000 Sailors, it’s an incredible place to implement that. I believe everyone has a story and I want to hear them, and see how I could help them in whatever their journey is. This is just a great time for all of us to learn while we’re here.”
Each candidate has his or her own reason for becoming a chaplain. For Roberts, from Dyersburg, Tennessee, it seemed destined.
“I’m a military brat and a preacher’s kid,” said Roberts. “I’ve got two great passions in life; that’s ministry and military. I served 13 years in the army and two were spent in Iraq. Being on a ship of this magnitude is a day and night difference, but I feel like I can help make a difference.”
Tillotson was inspired to become a chaplain after seeing the struggles other service members have dealt with after coming home from combat.
“After six years as an active duty Marine and meeting Sailors and Soldiers coming back from Iraq and Afghanistan and dealing with issues, I saw how impactful chaplains could be,” said Tillotson, from Columbus, Ohio. “As I was growing in my faith, I started understanding there was a need for healing above and beyond physical wounds. I met with a retired Navy chaplain at the VA [Veterans Affairs] and that’s where the seed was really planted for me to be a chaplain.”
After years of schooling and preparing, the candidates were enthusiastic to put their skills to work.
“On the job experiences like these are hard to come by and getting this opportunity was phenomenal,” said Gomez-Lorraine. “We got to come out here and do what we have been trained to do and the hospitality that was shown made me really feel like I was part of the crew.”
Lt. j.g. David Albano, a commissioned chaplain stationed aboard John C. Stennis who recently completed the same program, said he was excited to share the experience with the chaplain candidates. From showing them around the ship and meeting Sailors to leading services, Albano said this has been a great experience for everyone. He also added how grateful he was to the crew for welcoming the candidates and making them feel at home.

The road to becoming a Navy chaplain can be long and difficult. Requirements differ depending on the religion and denomination, but the common standard for entering the chaplain candidate program is having a master’s degree in divinity, which can take anywhere from two to five years. After that most chaplains complete at least two years of postgraduate full-time ministerial experience, before being eligible to apply for active duty.
After the candidates finish the underway aboard John C. Stennis, they will return home where they will continue on the path toward becoming a Navy chaplain.

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

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