Monday, January 30, 2012


We recently lost someone close to the Nimitz family.  Please watch the videos and help us honor our Handler's memory.

Local news story

The link below is our media department's video.  Wray and I interviewed about 15 people who were close to Lieutenant Commander Mills.  This was a job that was impossible to be emotionally prepared for.  For several hours, our TV studio was filled with the voices of sad remembrance, and both of us were exhausted after it was over.

As usual, our chain of command was the epitome of solid leadership, asking many times if we were holding up ok.  Thank you Chief Jones and Master Chief McMillan.  

Nimitz media story

An admiral approaches: up close

Real quick, I've had several inquires into just what a Strike Commander is like.  Click on the link below and after about 50 seconds you'll start to see the admiral's personality come out.  I can't wait to deploy with him.

Admiral Gumataotao

Thursday, January 26, 2012

An admiral approaches

The TV studio is never this crowded.  Media is currently on full alert, waiting for the new commander of Carrier Strike Group 11 to arrive.  He is Rear Admiral Gumataotao, and he is kind of a big deal.  Think of our carrier as a school.   If the captain of the Nimitz is the principal, the Strike Group Commander is the superintendent.  He's in charge of the carrier and all the ships that escort it.

UPDATE: The admiral just left the studio.  He talked with us for about 20 minutes, giving us props for all the great work media's done.  I'd describe him as motivated, forward thinking, and personable.  Also, I don't think it's a coincidence that people in high positions have great people skills.

Sent from my Samsung Epic™ 4G

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The journey: MC to Public Affairs Officer

Before he was a PAO, Ensign Larson mentored (and scared) the DINFOS students as MC1 Larson.

Over the last couple of years, I've had quite a few inquiries from my readers about applying for PAO, transitioning to PAO from MC, and the differences between the two jobs.  I realize information on the subject is hard to find.  Let me introduce you to someone who is perfectly suited to answer your questions. 

I recently wrote Ensign Larson, soon to be promoted to Lieutenant Junior Grade Larson, with your questions.  He is serving as deputy public affairs officer on board the USS Theodore Roosevelt, homeported at Norfolk Naval Station, Norfolk, Va.  His path to commissioning is unique, as you'll read.

His story is below.


Ah yes, the transition. I must say the Emperor has fully driven out the good in me in my complete turn to the dark side. lol.

Seriously though, it has been an amazing transition. I have been on board my ship for 17 months and I put on LTjg in two weeks. From how much is given, much is required, like LCDR Colkitt said at my commissioning.

Being an officer is the biggest challenge 
I have undertaken in the Navy. 

Oath of Office at the Defense Information School.
When I walked onboard my command for the first time, the guy I relieved had already been gone five months, and at the time, there was no PAO department head. Just me. As an LDO, I was expected to lead and operate my division. Sailors make it happen day in and day out, 
and I enjoy setting them up for success 
and teaching them what I know.
They were hands off with me, which was great. I didn't need to be hand held, but I did have a lot of questions as I found my way. I sought out senior LDO mentors, which gave me advice and counsel.  They didn't provide me the answer necessarily, but guidance that could help lead to my own decisions and solutions.

Believe me, when you have 20 Sailors you're responsible for who look to you every day for answers, it's challenging.


As an enlisted Sailor, you get to be hands on, and execute tasks. The officer is the idea guy, the vision, the big picture guy. A manager will tell you how to climb a ladder. A leader will tell you which ladder to use and what wall to put it against. This is where it is vastly different being an officer. I tell my Senior Chief where we need to go and what needs to happen ( we talk about ideas and solutions of course), and I turn it over to him to execute.

Demonstrating the macro lens at DINFOS.  Photo by me.

I still counsel my Sailors when it needs to come to my level, I write evals, I QC certain products, I mentor my photographers, but most of my time is meetings, 3M DIVO stuff, Repair Locker Officer stuff, arranging DV visits, managing long range planners like manning, training, equipment, quals, etc for the department. Throw in the occaisional media interaction for certain events. My PAO work is limited since we are in the shipyard, and my department head sees the need for me to be very ship focused in getting us ready to go back to sea.

The most rewarding part is developing junior Sailors. And each of them bring their own drama and challenges, and joys, to the job everyday.

Wouldn't go back for anything.


Ensign Larson was the last Navy photo limited duty officer to be commissioned, ever.  If you're interested in more details, click the link for a great story about the commissioning, and a great quote from yours truly.

I'll end this post with a few examples of MC1, err I mean Ensign Larson's photography.

Feast your eyes on THE SKILL.

Rainy day with the family.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Crash my vehicle

That's what I'd do if I saw what my buddy MC3 Betsy Knapper saw on her drive home.   Take a good look at this billboard, and think about all the cars that drive by it every day.  Imagine you're driving one of those cars and happen to glance up and realize that the photograph on the billboard is YOUR PHOTO.


MC3 Knapper:  I took this picture the day that we (Sailors aboard USS Gettysburg (CG 64)) were pulling out for a 7-month deployment. The father in the photo is FC2 Geoffery Bourget and his son Bentley. I was running around the pier that morning trying to capture as many moments as I could of families saying their goodbyes.

I always edit the photos I take and put them on the share drive for Sailors to go through and send any pics home. FC2's wife, Maria, said that she just loved this photo! It's always super great to hear things like that. I did a few picture favors for his wife during deployment and she even sent me a card thanking me! It was so sweet and really made me day!!

MC3 Knapper

 I couldn't wait to let her know that her boys were hanging up in Norfolk for the world to see!

After the 7-month haul, we all returned home safely and I returned back to Norfolk, Virginia to report back to my command. After only a few days back, I was driving onto base and saw this photo on the billboard!! It was instant shock!! I started smiling and and couldn't stop!! I was soooooo happy that a photo I had taken was selected to be used for an advertisement and printed so large AND I was smiling so much because of who was in the photo. FC2 and his wife are such great people, and I couldn't wait to let her know that her boys were hanging up in Norfolk for the world to see!! Maria of course was very thankful for me sending her this picture!

I have to admit that I even shed a few tears over the billboard. I know it sounds hooky, but after being away from everyone and almost everything I enjoy for a 7-month deployment and enduring a lot of stress it was just a big relief and very comforting seeing that my work doesn't always go unnoticed.

Simple things like that make it all worth it.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

A new kind of story

I'm in the sail loft onboard USS Nimitz, using some wireless mics to produce an audio story on Seaman Angelica Aguilar. 

You can listen to it here.

MC3 Winn took this photo to give the audience something to look at while they listened.  It's not on the homepage, but if you navigate to this page you'll see the two together.

Notice I'm the only one up there.  It's our first shot at this type of story, so let us know what you think!

Sent from my Samsung Epic™ 4G