I’d like to share with you an absolutely amazing opportunity that I got to experience this recent March in 2017!
Late last year the Cisco Champions forums were abuzz with this very unique and special occasion to get the chance to head to sea with the US Navy and experience a day in the life of the men and women in blue, serving our country. Some of you may remember the two years I spent in Afghanistan, in a sandstorm of a landlocked country, where Army, NATO, Air Force and Marines were widely represented but the US Navy, not nearly as much. So this further allowed me to truly experience life as they live it beyond what the sandbox offered.
Well as every journey begins with a single step, this journey began with a train ride in order to arrive at my eventual destination of the Naval Amphibious Base in Coronado, CA.
The journey was long and tumultuous but it was well worth it for the experience and adventures that it brought about.
Feeling like a rockstar, I begin my start with a parking space just for me, or well, Mr. version of me, but nonetheless, that felt pretty good! But things only continued to get better from there! As we head inside to a briefing room we got to drill our initial chaperon on details of the day to come as well as very specific details about the US Naval Fleet!
It was an honor to meet Vice Admiral Thomas Rowden who is Commander Naval Surface Force U.S. Pacific Fleet. There were no electronic devices allowed in the briefing room when we first met with him so you’ll have to accept this post-briefing photo-op with him. More than the honor to meet him though was the hour he spent sharing with us details of the US Navy, it’s history and the current state of effects. Some notable quotes, anecdotes and stories he shared were;
Enlistment and enrollment figures in the US Navy are between 60 and 70% existing Navy Families. Fathers and Mothers who serve have a higher liklihood of their sons and daughters going on to serve in the Navy, while this is a very familial type story it also speaks to fewer and fewer candidates outside of Naval families are enrolling to serve. This then lead to the Vice Admiral sharing that his father was coming to visit the week we were there, and what they were likely to talk about, was the Navy and how things can be done better. It’s interesting to note that Vice Admiral Thomas Rowden’s father was also a Vice Admiral during his service in the US Navy, an interesting comment that he made was, while his father served, his own three sons have not expressed an interest in joining the Navy. If the trend of familial recruiment figures were to persist as they had in the past, but pursuing a military career isn’t in more individuals trajectories, we could be facing a recruitment crisis before long.
The US Navy focus is “How do you get from where you are, to where you want to be“
US Naval ships are at their lowest figure in history, “It takes 15 minutes to close the door, and 15-30 years to deploy a new ship“
On the hardworking nature of the men and women at sea, “Winners work hard, losers don’t.“
Here we head out for our ~45 minute helicopter flight to go 80-90 miles out to sea where USS Howard (DDG 83) happened to be at that point! Keri Kukral and I are all geared up in this mid-flight selfie!
Commander Amy McInnis, Commanding Officer of the USS Howard (DDG 83) introduces us to her crew and our liaisons who will be giving us a tour of this very operational Destroyer on the open seas of the Pacific Ocean.
A sample of both the crew and the fire power of this offensive and defensive warship.
Subtle yet very serious fire power available here on deck.
As a testament to the very familial nature of the US Navy and their attachment to their ships. This is the bell at the front of the USS Howard (DDG 83) and when the ship is in port, often baptisms are scheduled by families to have their children baptized on the ship. Their names are then etched inside of the bell for perpetuity. I saw the engravings, it really ties family, and ship and navy and family all together.
A comment made by one of the shipmates was, “They said join the Navy and see the world, but they didn’t mention that 71% of the Earth is covered in water!” A poignant yet interesting comment, but they further went on to rave about all of the Ports across the world they’ve had the opportunity to visit and the amazing experiences they had while enlisted in the ranks of the US Navy.
Our time cannot last forever, so our ride arrives to take us back to solid mass of Earth.
I really liked this photo and the simple yet very complex nature of the lives and roles these soldiers fulfill to protect our borders, our shores and our seas.
I’m only sharing a small sample of photos from this whole adventure as I have over 400 photos and videos I took!
To sum things up, this was an absolutely amazing experience I had the opportunity to enjoy and explore with, and I had many takeaways, some public like included here, and some private. I don’t want you to think this is an advertisement for the US Navy or any of our Military operations, just as my time in Afghanistan was not either. However it really does shed light on the state of affairs across our military in general and particularly the extremely lean (too lean) Naval forces we have, both in the supply of people to man the ships, and the ships themselves.
It really increases my appreciation for everything they do, and this was just one ship as part of one fleet, in one part of our worlds oceans.
I really want to thank the Cisco Champions program, Brandon Prebynski, Dennis Hall of Avere Group LLC and Mike Raney, PRO of US Navy Fleet who helped make this all possible.
Also see the experiences of my fellow Leader at Sea, Keri Kukral
Dennis Hall, founder of Avere Group LLC, made my embarking possible via his nominating me the US Navy. He is neither an employee of nor contractor with the military. He does this as a pay-it-forward in tribute to service members, veterans, allies and their families. Dennis Hall initially submitted my nomination to the Public Affairs Officer of the US Navy, Commander, Naval Surface Forces – Pacific. The Public Affairs Officer selected me for the Leaders to Sea Program. Dennis Hall acts in accord with Cisco Systems as liaison with the military for public affairs programs pertaining to Cisco Champions and Cisco Social Ambassadors.
Dennis Hall may be e-mail contacted at: ContactDennisHall@gmail.com The word “Contact” is part of his e-mail address. His mobile phone number is 916-430-5263. His blog for Avere Group LLC is www.AvereGroup.Wordpress.com On Twitter he is @averegroup