Story by Petty Officer 2nd Class Jonathan Jiang

PACIFIC OCEAN – USS John C. Stennis’ (CVN 74) Multi-Cultural Heritage Committee (MCHC) held a National American Indian Heritage Month observance in the ship’s hangar bay, Dec. 17.

National American Indian Heritage Month is observed in November. However, due to operational requirements, John C. Stennis held its observance as it returned to its homeport of Bremerton, Washington.

The ceremony featured Sailors taking the stage to speak about Native American contributions from history, followed with a performance of a traditional dance.

“I’m happy they did it to bring light to different cultures, not let it fade away,” said Petty Officer 2nd Class Courtney Jackson, from Atlanta, Georgia, who attended the ceremony. “It’s an important part of American history.”

Petty Officer 2nd Class Christopher Mount, from San Diego, a member of the Cherokee tribe, was the last speaker.

“I was really happy to be a part of this event, especially being Native American,” said Mount. “I wanted to give a little history about what Native Americans have done, what they have gone through and how they lived.”

For the final event of the ceremony, Seaman Katlynn Joe, from Upper Fruitland, New Mexico, a member of the Navajo tribe, led members of MCHC in a rendition of the jingle dress, a Native American women’s dance performed to help heal the injured and sick or for grieving families.

“It’s good that I can let people know a bit of Native American culture,” said Joe. “It helps them be informed.”

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 Petty Officer 3rd Class Oscar Quezada

PACIFIC OCEAN – The yoga instructor starts her class with simple poses and stretches to get the blood pumping. As time goes by and her music starts picking up, the poses become more complex and the pace quickens. The instructor does not leave her students behind though; she reminds them how to breathe and walks them step-by-step through each pose.

Senior Chief Terrish Bilbrey, from Lafayette, Tennessee, the operations department leading chief petty officer, teaches yoga aboard USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74).

“I came into the Navy with this really badass attitude,” said Bilbrey. “What I didn’t realize is that I had an overachiever mindset.”

When Bilbrey was a junior Sailor, she did 10 straight years of sea duty and was on four different ships before going to her first shore duty. She was selected for Sailor of the Quarter twice in one year, made Sailor of the Year for the entire Pacific Fleet and picked up chief on her first try.

Despite her active lifestyle and successful naval career, Bilbrey was going through difficulties in her personal life. She described her childhood as having a tough environment, which drove her to have a hyper-competitive mindset. That drove her to succeed only for the external validation and recognition of others to feel better about herself.

Without an outlet, the stress of her need to succeed began to lead her to make destructive decisions. After reaching a low point in her life, she realized she was not on the right path. Trying to turn her life around, she turned to yoga.

“I started to realize that I would have these sensations of forgiveness and I would start to let go of some feelings and anger and all of those things that I held inside,” said Bilbrey.

Yoga includes breathing control, simple meditation and the adoption of specific bodily postures and is widely practiced for health and relaxation. It is one way for someone who is surrounded by stress to have it relieved.

“So yoga is really about self-reflection,” said Bilbrey. “It’s a constant daily self-reflection and it has made me more humble. If someone is going through a really hard time, they can look at it in two ways. They can get ticked off about it or they can get inspired and say what do I need to learn.”

After being a student for a while, Bilbrey wanted to share what she learned with others.

“My goal with sharing yoga is to help people understand that they are perfect the way they are,” said Bilbrey. “I don’t want anyone else to feel that they are not worthy because that is the way I felt for 30 years of my life.”

She received her yoga-teaching certificate when she was stationed at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, in 2011.

After getting her certificate, she brought what she learned into the military. She led yoga classes on USS Ronald Raegan (CVN 76) for two years before transferring to John C. Stennis and teaching Sailors here.

“I want to keep teaching yoga, but I want to do more,” said Bilbrey. “I believe we have the ability to design our life, the ability to take whatever it is you dream of … and make anything happen in your life. I want to help people realize their potential by using yoga practice, mindfulness practice, and also lifestyle changes.”

At the end of the one-hour yoga session, the exhausted students are rolling up their mats, some are breathing hard and others broke a sweat. Bilbrey thanked her students for coming to her class. Bilbrey used yoga as a healthy way to deal with her problems. It had physical, emotional and mental benefits for her. By teaching yoga, she hopes that she can share the lessons she learned with her fellow Sailors.

Story by Petty Officer 3rd Class Aime Lykins

PACIFIC OCEAN – The Sailors of USS John C. Stennis’ medical department passed an individual medical readiness inspection (IMRI) while at sea, Dec. 13.

The IMRI is an annual evaluation, conducted Navy-wide, for commands associated with naval air activities, both on shore and afloat.

“This inspection has to deal with the whole ship’s medical readiness,” said Petty Officer 1st Class Jason Cook, from Virginia Beach, Virginia, who works in John C. Stennis’ medical department. “For this inspection we had inspectors come out and review 120 medical records to ensure we had everything up-to-date, proper verifications performed and the record jacket itself is serviceable.”

A team of five inspectors flew on board for the inspection, which the medical department began preparing for in October.

“A lot of work has gone into preparing for this inspection,” said Petty Officer 2nd Class Carly Marcum, from Jacksonville, Florida, who works in John C. Stennis’ medical department. “For each of the approximately 3,000 records on board, we had a checklist for the whole record from front to back. Even something as simple as having a checkmark instead of an ‘X’ on a patient form could be a hit, so we are going through each record to ensure it is perfect and meets the standard.”

Cook added that while the inspection itself lasted only a matter of a few hours, more than 200 hours of preparation time went into the inspection.

“When we got underway [in November] our main focus was records,” said Cook. “Medical is always very busy with routine operations and patients. In between chow, general quarters, training evolutions, sick call and drills, we filled in all that time with preparing records. I’m really proud of the medical team.”

After the inspection was completed, Capt. Kevin Brown, fleet surgeon and head of the inspection team, reported that John C. Stennis’ calibrated score for the inspection was 97.9 percent.

“My takeaway from the inspection overall is that we have an even better medical team here than I thought we did,” said Cmdr. Allen Hoffman, from Somerset, New Jersey, John C. Stennis’ senior medical officer. “I’m really happy with the numbers and even though we had a lot of things going on, everyone pitched in, helped out and it really shows how much the prep work paid off.”

The IMRI was last conducted on board John C. Stennis just prior to the ship’s Western Pacific deployment as part of the larger Medical Readiness Inspection (MRI), which is conducted within 90 days of a command’s regularly scheduled deployment and evaluates all aspects of a medical department’s mission readiness and capabilities.

Hoffman reported the score the medical department received for the IMRI was comparable, if not better than, the score it received during the 2015 pre-deployment.

“Things look really great on board and that is not just the medical department, particularly just coming off of deployment, it is a rare thing and that really comes from the leadership all the way down the line,” said Brown. “The medical team was very professional and I would be very happy to receive medical care and have my family receive care here. This was a great experience and that includes all the departments involved in our stay.”

As the ship’s medical department wraps up the year, Hoffman emphasized that the quality of care and records management will remain high even through the upcoming scheduled period of incremental availability (PIA) maintenance phase.

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 Petty Officer 3rd Class Oscar Quezada

PACIFIC OCEAN – Chaplain candidate program officers (CCPOs) are visiting USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) while underway to see what it takes to be a Navy chaplain.

“It is a phenomenal program, and it is a time for them to test the Navy and it to test them,” said Lt. Cmdr. Tavis J. Long, one of John C. Stennis’ chaplains and a mentor for the CCPOs, from Dover, Ohio. “I can honestly say that the CCPOs here are the kinds of chaplains we need, that the Navy needs.”

Once accepted into the chaplain candidate program, applicants attend the Direct Commission Officer Indoctrination Course to become commissioned officers in the inactive reserve. While they are commissioned officers in the inactive reserve, they must complete their master’s degree and get two years of ministry experience before petitioning to become an active-duty chaplain.

“I felt called to ministry,” said Lt. j. g. James Lee Carnes, a CCPO, from Turlock, California. “After graduating from Bible college, I was just praying about where the Lord was calling me to and felt him putting the military on my heart. I enlisted as a religious programs specialist to get started in that journey and almost nine years later, I’m still on that journey.”

The CCPOs aboard the ship are in different stages of the program, but they all capitalized on the opportunity John C. Stennis provided for on-the-job training and to experience what it takes to be a chaplain out at sea.

“They come in and they have phenomenal spirit,” said Long. “I want them to have as much a taste of being a chaplain as I have. They come in willing and ready to do anything, but I then want to make sure that what we give them to do is meaningful.”

During the underway, they will be familiarizing themselves with the ship and experiencing different facets of ship life.

The CCPOs are observing and assisting the ship’s chaplains in church services and leading the crew in evening prayer. They are also learning about corrective actions from the commanding officer and the executive officer in order to better understand the process on how to counsel Sailors who might find themselves in those situations.

“I’m extremely blessed for this opportunity to be onboard [John C. Stennis],” said Carnes. “We had incredible hosts. It’s been a wonderful experience.”

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 Petty Officer 3rd Class Aime Lykins

PACIFIC OCEAN – More than 100 Sailors participated in a ‘Jingle Bell’ 5K on the flight deck of USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74), Dec. 11.

The race kicked off with Master Chief Petty Officer Christopher Martin, from Silverdale, Washington, a member of supply department, dressed in full Santa Clause attire, bringing runners to their mark and then starting the race with the jingling of a hand bell.

Runners completed 10 laps around a marked track on the flight deck to make the 5K distance.

“This was a challenge and a good workout,” said Lt. Adam Danielson, from San Diego, who came in second place for men. “After being in Hawaii where it was warm, this helps get into the holiday spirit because we can feel the weather getting a little colder, and if we had some snow then it would really be perfect.”

The race marked the second holiday 5K completed on John C. Stennis’ flight deck in the past month.

“I did the Turkey Trot and this was a great race too,” said Petty Officer 1st Class Noelia Perez, from Houston, who placed first for women. “I run about five times a week and I felt well prepared. Running is definitely my stress reliever and it was great to come up here and see everyone dressed up having a good time together.”

The run was facilitated through the ship’s Morale, Welfare and Recreation and supply department in collaboration with air department, who arranged aircraft to accommodate the 5K route. The 5K was designed as a way for Sailors to celebrate the upcoming holidays while at sea.

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 Petty Officer 2nd Class Jonathan Jiang

PACIFIC OCEAN – USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) departed Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, Dec. 8, after taking part in National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day events.

John C. Stennis Sailors participated in events commemorating the 75th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor and Oahu, which precipitated the United States’ entry into World War II.

The theme of this year’s commemoration, “Honoring the Past, Inspiring the Future,” is highlighted through events that will continue through Dec. 11, including remembrance events, concerts and performances by military and civilian groups, themed movies on the beach, events for World War II and Pearl Harbor survivors and veterans, educational opportunities and the Honolulu Marathon.

From Dec. 3-8, John C. Stennis 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, Arizona Governor Doug Ducey, veterans, and their family and friends. John C. Stennis Sailors also attended the Pearl Harbor Invitational in Bloch Arena on Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam. College basketball teams from California, Hawaii, Princeton and Seton Hall paid homage to the 75th anniversary with a series of games on Dec. 6 and 7.

“I think it’s awesome when we can all come together and represent the United States Navy,” said Seaman Meissan McDaniel, from New Albany, Indiana, who attended the games both days. “When we rode the bus over there together it made me remember back when I played sports and we would travel to whatever venue or opportunity we were presented with together.”

John C. Stennis Sailors donned their dress white uniforms and joined other active duty service members and veterans in the Pearl Harbor Memorial Parade, Dec. 7, in Honolulu.

“Right when we started marching everyone started cheering for us, ‘Go Navy!'” said Petty Officer 3rd Class Arrington Jenkins, from Arlington, Texas. “It was a pretty amazing experience, especially seeing all of the veterans … us walking by and them saluting us. It’s a humbling feeling.”

After its departure from Hawaii, John C. Stennis will conduct at-sea training to build and maintain technical and operational proficiency.

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

For more information on commemorative events, visit https://pearlharbor75thanniversary.com/full-schedule-of-events/.

Story by John C. Stennis Public Affairs

JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM – USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) pulled into Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, Dec. 2, to participate in National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day events in Hawaii.

John C. Stennis got underway from Naval Base Kitsap-Bremerton, Washington, on Nov. 22 to conduct routine training.

Dec. 7, 2016 will mark the 75th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor and Oahu, which precipitated the United States’ entry into World War II.

The theme of this year’s commemoration, “Honoring the Past, Inspiring the Future,” is highlighted through events that have already begun and will continue through Dec. 11. These include remembrance events, concerts and performances by military and civilian groups, themed movies on the beach, events for World War II and Pearl Harbor survivors and veterans, educational opportunities and the Honolulu Marathon.

The commemoration planning is led by the 75th Commemoration Committee, in partnership with the U.S. military, other government agencies, nonprofit organizations and business partners.

Prior to arriving in Hawaii and after its departure, John C. Stennis conducted at-sea training to maintain and build technical and operational proficiency. Ongoing training is essential in ensuring U.S. warships remain capable, adaptive and able to carry out an array of missions around the world. Scheduled operations and training while underway included damage control and firefighting drills, carrier qualifications, flight deck operations, seamanship evolutions, engineering training, and exercises designed to maintain technical and tactical proficiency in a variety of warfare areas.

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

For more information on commemorative events, visit https://pearlharbor75thanniversary.com/full-schedule-of-events/.

Story by Petty Officer 2nd Class Jonathan Jiang

PACIFIC OCEAN – USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) Sailors were frocked during a ceremony held in the ship’s hangar bay while underway, Nov. 30.

Capt. Greg Huffman, John C. Stennis’ commanding officer, congratulated each of the 247 Sailors with a handshake while presenting them with their frocking letter in front of the gathered crew.

“It’s awesome seeing so many people who got frocked,” said newly frocked Petty Officer 2nd Class Shelbie Bergeron, from Easthampton, Massachusetts.

Frocking is a naval tradition authorizing Sailors selected for advancement in the most recent Navy-wide advancement exam to wear the uniform and assume the responsibilities of the next higher rank prior to their official promotion date.

“Putting on the crows, I know it’s going to be a lot more responsibility,” said newly frocked Petty Officer 3rd Class Michael Zubia, from Phoenix. “It’s a different mindset I’ve got to get into and I think I’m ready for it.”

Bergeron emphasized the importance of studying and perseverance as a key to her success this advancement cycle.

“At least a couple weeks before the exam I had been studying 5-6 hours a day,” said Bergeron. “Just study, keep working hard and don’t get discouraged. This was my fifth time taking the exam and I finally made it.”

After the ceremony, the newly frocked petty officers returned to their departments and divisions, ready to assume new responsibilities befitting the higher rank.

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 Seaman Andrew J. Lett

PACIFIC OCEAN – More than 100 Sailors participated in a 5K ‘Turkey Trot’ to celebrate Thanksgiving weekend on the flight deck of USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74), Nov. 27.

James Howard, John C. Stennis’ fitness director, worked to make the Sunday after Thanksgiving fun for the Sailors while they are away from their families.

“The ‘Turkey Trot’ was something we wanted to do to put the Sailor’s minds at ease while they are underway during the holidays,” said Howard. “How many people can say they ran a 5k on the flight deck of an aircraft carrier?”

Despite an initial wind delay, the run was a successful event that many said they would like to do again. Sailors started near the superstructure and ran 10 laps around the forward portion of the flight deck.

“It was kind of a spontaneous thing for me,” said Petty Officer 2nd Class Tiffany Shouder, from Orlando, Florida. “For me, to come out and finish the [run] is something I’m proud of.”

After running off their Thanksgiving feast calories, the participants received a T-shirt to commemorate the event.

“It’s always good to get outside the ship, even if it’s just for a couple hours,” said Howard. “It’s important to stay fit and it’s my job to find fun ways for Sailors to work on their fitness.”

Howard is looking forward to putting on more events for Sailors in the near future.

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 Petty Officer 2nd Class Jonathan Jiang

PACIFIC OCEAN – After a whistle blow pierced the air, rubber sports balls sailed overhead as Sailors from USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) participated in a dodgeball tournament in its hangar bay, Nov. 27.

Thirty-one teams of 10 Sailors each competed in the tournament, representing different departments around the ship.

The winners of the tournament were Sailors from weapons department G-1 division.

G-1 was victorious in all five of their matches, coming out on top in a showdown against the team from the ship’s media department in the finals.

“It feels great,” said Seaman Michael Fort, from Chicago, a member of team G-1. “We did it as a team, we worked together.”

While the goal for the players was victory, James Howard, John C. Stennis’ fitness director and event organizer, had a different aim altogether.

“We wanted to help build morale for the crew for this underway,” said Howard. “Its tough to be separated from our families. The dodgeball tournament was something we tried to put on to give the crew a little bit of relief and camaraderie during the underway.”

The crowds roared as victors emerged from each match and players congratulated their former competitors on a good game. Howard said that due to the event’s positive reception, he is already planning a second tournament.

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

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