Going For A Million

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The Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) weighs 93,000 tons, or 186 million pounds, and Sailors onboard will attempt to lift the same amount of weight over the course of deployment.

     The “Millionaire’s Club” competition, organized by TR’s Moral, Welfare and Recreation (MWR), began May 1 and will run until Nov. 1 as participants exercise their way to one million points.

     “This all rted to help Sailors track their workouts,” said Nathan Owen, TR’s fitboss. “It motivates people by showing them just how much they are improving on their workouts.”

     190 Sailors signed up for the challenge. Each participant will earn a set number of points for each exercise.

     According to the rules of the event, a participant earns one point for every pound lifted or calorie burned. For example, if a Sailor curls a 50-pound dumbbell eight times with each arm, they would earn 800 points for that exercise. Calories burned during a cardio workout are multiplied by five to make points equivalent to pounds lifted. Burning 150 calories on a treadmill awards the runner 750 points. To add more fuel to the

calorie-burning fire, TR’s MWR fitness team offers exercise courses accounting for an additional 5,000 points per class.

     Two motivated TR Sailors recently accumulated enough points to officially join the Millionaire’s Club and are among the first onboard to achieve their fitness goals.

     “I did not know that I was only one of two Sailors that had finished the challenge already,” said Chief Hospital Corpsman Jolando Lightner. “It makes me feel good to know that with everyone working out I finished so quickly.”

     Lightner said he started noticing a physical difference while racking up the points and felt an improvement with his strength and endurance.

150518-N-ZZ999-033 U.S. 5TH FLEET AREA OF OPERATIONS (May 18, 2015)- Lt. j.g. Christopher Kaminsky from Pittsburgh, performs physical training in the hangar bay aboard the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71). Theodore Roosevelt is deployed in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations supporting Operation Inherent Resolve, strike operations in Iraq and Syria as directed, maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the region. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class D'Artanyan Ratley/Released)

 

 

     “The main workouts I loved to do were leg workouts,” said Lightner. “I was able to earn so many more points with a leg workout and I was able to tell the difference from when I started to when I finished the challenge. The leg workouts became my favorite because I was able to accumulate close to 100,000 points for every workout I did.”

     Logging each point is just as much a motivator as completing each exercise, said Lightner.

     “I was very diligent in keeping track of my points,” said Lightner. “After every set I would add up the points from it and write them down. That way I knew where I was at the beginning and end of every workout I had done.”

     With every weight lifted and every mile run, the points and pounds stack up. The health benefits aside, if 186 of the 190 Sailors complete the daunting challenge, they will have moved enough weight to have pushed TR toward her new homeport.

Theodore Roosevelt is the flagship of the Theodore Roosevelt Carrier Strike Group (TRCSG), which is composed of Carrier Strike Group 12, Carrier Air Wing 1, Destroyer Squadron 2 staff, the guided-missile cruiser USS Normandy (CG 60) and the guided-missile destroyers USS Winston S. Churchill (DDG 81), USS Farragut (DDG 90) and USS Forrest Sherman (DDG 98).
     Roosevelt is deployed in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations supporting Operation Inherent Resolve, strike operations in Iraq and Syria as directed, maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the region.

 

Join the conversation with TR online at http://www.facebook.com/USSTheodoreRoosevelt and http://www.Twitter.com/TheRealCVN71. For more news from USS Theodore Roosevel

Finding Family

MC1-Ailes

 

“I think we’re related!”

     Damage Controlman Fireman Norman Sanders showed up on Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Justin Ailes’ figurative doorstep one afternoon in the Media work center aboard the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) to proclaim this revelation of relation.

     “We’re related?” asked Ailes.

     Sanders began to trace their lineage and the two, otherwise, strangers traveled down the winding road of their family tree’s roots.

     TR Sailors such as Ailes and Sanders do what they can to stay in touch with their families despite intermittent emails, costly phone calls and the thousands of miles in between.

     “One day I got a Facebook friend request from a woman I did not know, but her last name was my last name,” said Ailes. “I’m cautious with social media, so I didn’t accept it. So [Sanders] explained to me that there was a photo taken of me and the XO [Capt. Jeff Craig, TR’s executive officer] doing our radio show and when it was posted to the TR’s Facebook page, this woman who had reached out to me saw it. It was his aunt.”

     A stay-at-home mom, Sanders’ aunt decided she would spend her free time researching their family roots. She tracked down her elusive family, and when she browsed through TR’s Facebook page she saw the Ailes surname. She knew she was onto something and started connecting the dots, said Sanders.

     “My mom shared and tagged me in this photo,” said Sanders. “I didn’t think anything of it.”

     The photo was taken during XO’s first radio show, which covers the ship’s upcoming events and U.S. news. No one could have guessed that the platform would open the doors to a small but powerful family reunion.

150501-N-ZF498-020 ARABIAN GULF (May 1, 2015) – Captain Jeff Craig, the executive officer of the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71)  and Mass Communications Specialist 1st Class Justin Ailes host a weekly radio show. The radio show informs sailors of upcoming events, world news and regulations, as well as plays classic rock. Theodore Roosevelt is deployed to the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations conducting maritime security operations. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Anthony N. Hilkowski/Released)

 

     Sanders only discovered what happened when his aunt messaged him after his mom shared the photo. He said he freaked out at first when his aunt said someone on the ship is related to him, but Sanders was determined to find his long lost cousin.

     “My first impression of him was that he was definitely an Ailes,” said Sanders. “I could just tell. All the Ailes have such a great personality. They’re so open to everybody. When I heard he was doing the radio show, I wasn’t surprised at all. I could see how he’d be perfect for that kind of thing.”

     “So we started talking and figured out that we are fourth cousins,” said Ailes. “We share the same great-great-grandfather, George Henry Ailes, a person I’ve never met or heard of. So the irony of it, that we would grow up very close to each other and have never met, only to wind up on the same ship. It’s awesome.”

     Ailes grew up in a small town named Twelve-Mile, Indiana. Sanders, just an hour and a half drive north, grew up in Portage, Indiana. Interestingly enough, even Ailes’ wife grew up in Portage.

     “The first thing I did was email my brother. I told him, ‘You’re never going to believe this,’” said Ailes. “Then I wrote my wife. I told her, ‘Hey, this is crazy, but I have a fourth cousin on this ship.’ Out of some 5,000 people on this ship, one is related to me.”

     The irony does not stop there. Ailes originally enlisted as a hull maintenance technician; an engineer, just like Sanders.

     “I was around some very tough, very salty, old-school Sailors who taught me a lot about the engineering, firefighting, and damage control side of the house,” said Ailes. “But they also taught me a lot about integrity; what it truly means to be a Sailor and [how] to take care of your people. As much as we didn’t see eye-to-eye on things, we were a very tight group; a very cohesive unit.”

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    Sanders instantly felt a bond through their brief conversations, and both look forward to connecting more dots and getting to know each other.

     “We engineers try to stick together,” said Sanders. “We make fun of each other all the time, but we have an understanding of each other, and we work hard together.

     “It’s so great to have family out here,” Sanders added “I mean, we’re very distant in the family tree, but we’re still family. It doesn’t make [deployment] as hard; having to be away from everyone back home. It’s nice to have someone out here with you.”

     Theodore Roosevelt is the flagship of the Theodore Roosevelt Carrier Strike Group (TRCSG), which is composed of Carrier Strike Group 12, Carrier Air Wing 1, Destroyer Squadron 2 staff, the guided-missile cruiser USS Normandy (CG 60) and the guided-missile destroyers USS Winston S. Churchill (DDG 81), USS Farragut (DDG 90) and USS Forrest Sherman (DDG 98).
     Roosevelt is deployed in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations supporting Operation Inherent Resolve, strike operations in Iraq and Syria as directed, maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the region.

 

Join the conversation with TR online at http://www.facebook.com/USSTheodoreRoosevelt and http://www.Twitter.com/TheRealCVN71. For more news from USS Theodore Roosevelt, visit http://www.navy.mil/local/cvn71/.

TR Mustangs: Earning Their Way Through the Ranks

 

Mustang pyramid

Rucking through the mountains of Afghanistan, scrubbing elbow deep in a scullery sink, recovering aircraft on the flight deck of a carrier in the world’s greatest Navy – the life of an enlisted Sailor is filled with views from the peaks of success and even valleys of failure. One breed of Sailors breaks away from the herd and finds themselves in places that perhaps they never imagined they’d be.

     “Oh, the places you’ll go.” Dr. Seuss wrote these words at the introduction of one of his most legendary books of the same name.   The book is commonly referenced in cards and mementos gifted to service members during their military tenure. From the Rock of Gibraltar with shipmates in abundance to the top of the Burj Khalifa with liberty buddies, the places and relationships built during Naval career are invaluable and coveted for years.

   When Alexander Lamis pictured his life as a Sailor in the United States Navy, he may have imagined exotic foreign ports but he never foresaw a life in the Wardroom. Now serving as the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) security officer, Lt. Lamis enlisted in the Navy in March 1995 as a master-at-arms.

Lamis   

  “I truly never envisioned that I’d make a career out of the Navy so I didn’t really ever think about commissioning,” Lamis said. “I’ve always tried to set myself up for success to make the highest rank possible but I definitely didn’t envision myself as a mustang. But it worked out that way and the rest is history.”

     The places mustangs go are of the exceptional sort. Cmdr. Michael Garber, TR’s gun boss, began his career as a seaman recruit and gave his interpretation of the spirit of the mustang that lives within about 80 officers aboard.

Cdr Garber

     “A mustang is a spirited horse,” said Garber. “It’s a very strong-willed and competent animal. A mustang can be hard to tame and at times it can revert back to its spirited ways. Sort of like an enlisted Sailor who goes on to make officer. That’s what we are. Mustangs: prior enlisted Sailors that commissioned to become officers.”

     Ensign Sequoia Youngblood began her career in 2000 as an information systems technician seaman recruit (ITSR). She attributes much of her success to the support she received from her mentors.

     “I had a lot of mentors at my first command and that was key,” said Youngblood. “I had to align myself on the path they laid before me, starting at ITSR on up through the ranks. Each mentor gave me a tool for my toolbox and built me up for success.”

     The Navy offers several commissioning opportunities to its enlisted community. Each opportunity is unique and tailored to ensure the Navy commissions the right Sailors with the right skill sets.

     The Seaman to Admiral-21 (STA-21) program, once referred to as the Broadened Opportunity for Officer Selection and Training (BOOST) program, is a commissioning program that provides an opportunity for highly motivated active duty enlisted personnel. The program offers an eight-week training course to provide Sailors with core fundamentals before sending selectees to a four-year college. The selectees receives full pay, allowances and benefits for their enlisted pay grades and are eligible for advancement while participating in the program. While obtaining their bachelor’s degree, service members are attached to a Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps (NROTC) unit and participate in drills with their unit until graduation and commissioning.

 YOUNGBLOOD

   Sailors with their bachelor’s degrees often take the Officer Candidate School (OCS) route on their path to butter bars. Applicants for OCS may request designation depending upon individual qualifications and available community designators. OCS is a 12-week program of intense officer training and indoctrination located at Officer Training Command (OTC), Newport, Rhode Island. Designed by Navy officers and educators, OCS provides a basic knowledge of the high-tech Naval establishment afloat and ashore. Training prepares candidates to assume the responsibilities of a Naval officer.

     Two TR Sailors most recently selected for commissioning are still hard at work in their enlisted roles. They decided to commission via the limited duty officer (LDO) and chief warrant officer (CWO) programs. Aviation’s Boatswain’s Mate (handler) 1st Class Nandesh Baliraj is slated to commission in December and will follow on to serve as a ship’s boatswain. Chief Culinary Specialist Karen Thompson was selected for chief warrant officer and will serve as a food service officer.

   The LDO and CWO programs provide commissioning opportunities to qualified enlisted personnel and CWOs. In order to be eligible for the CWO program, the applicant must be a chief or a board-eligible E6. Each LDO designation has specific applicant requirements depending on the community.

     LDOs are technically oriented officers who perform duties in specific occupational fields and require strong managerial skills. CWOs are technical specialists who perform duties requiring extensive knowledge and skills of a specific occupational field.

     Baliraj said it was humbling to be one of three Sailors chosen Navywide for his LDO program.

     “It felt like a great accomplishment especially since this was the second time I submitted a package,” said Baliraj. “I was on leave when I found out. I received a call and it really took a moment for it to all sink in but hard work and determination really do pay off. It’s always a good feeling to see your hard work recognized.”

   Always ready to serve his shipmates, Baliraj is looking forward to the opportunity to make a difference at the officer level.

   “Whether I’m in a situation to gain or not, I always lend a helping hand,” said Baliraj. “I’m always there to share what I know. Whatever I know, I pass it on. Sometimes you have to do things you don’t agree with but that’s all a part of being in the military. I always try to work through the bad and hold onto the good. I always try to take the negative and make it into a positive.”

NEW MUSTANGS_1

     Thompson picked up chief her first time up and thought her career path was sealed by the fouled anchors she dons on her collar insignia, but her evolution as a Sailor was not complete. Shortly after receiving her anchors, Thompson was selected for CWO.

   “I was shocked,” said Thompson. “I just picked up Chief this cycle. It really was bittersweet.”

     With tears in her eyes, Thompson described the irony behind her more recent success.

   “I just feel so much pride as a Chief,” she said. “April 1st is the Chiefs’ Mess’ birthday and I’ve only spent one as a Chief. I’ve always wanted to go the officer route. All my mentors pushed me to be a chief but I’ve always wanted to be an officer. I really do love being a chief and I didn’t expect to pick up CWO within the same year, but it is a blessing. It’s an overwhelming feeling.”

   Thompson and her husband met at her first command. He will be the first to render her honors at her commissioning.

   “I’ve been with my husband for thirteen years,” said Thompson. “We’ve made every rank together. When I made chief, that was the first time we didn’t make rank together and I made CWO immediately after. I wanted to know how he felt. He was very supportive. He told me, ‘you’re my wife, I’m very happy for you. Your success is my success.’ I wouldn’t have my first salute from anyone else in the world.”

   Navy mustangs hail from all sorts of humble beginnings that enlisted Sailors know all too well. Like their motto says, they’ve done it the hard way and earned their commission in countless working parties, through stripping decks and painting seemingly endless bulkheads. No matter how different the path, there is one major thing they all have in common; their unyielding spirit and the savior-faire that only the enlisted experience can provide. Despite the odds and despite each proverbial “no” that presents itself in a lifetime – these mustangs trailblaze through obstacles with relentless resiliency. All the places they go, they are a testament to where stout work ethic can take you.

     “I mean, what a ride,” said Garber. “What an opportunity. From E1 to chief petty officer to commander – I’ve got to do so many wonderful things at so many wonderful billets. But for me, walking around this ship, I love working with Sailors. Just knowing that we’re out there and that we were once enlisted, it’s a reminder to all of our Sailors that we walked in their shoes. The same opportunities that were presented to me are there for them. We’ve lived the enlisted life and dealt with the same things. But I’m here to tell you – the harder you work, the higher you get in rank and the better it gets.”

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Danica M. Sirmans, USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) Public Affairs

Join the conversation with TR online at http://www.facebook.com/USSTheodoreRoosevelt and http://www.Twitter.com/TheRealCVN71. For more news from USS Theodore Roosevelt, visit  www.navy.mil/local/cvn71/.

Operation Holy Helo

 

150405-N-WW127-272

Not all ships in the Theodore Roosevelt Carrier Strike Group (TRCSG) have chaplains aboard, so the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt’s (CVN 71) Command Religious Ministries Department takes to the skies to deliver spiritual support to the strike group’s Sailors.

     The operation, dubbed “Holy Helo” gives embarked Sailors the opportunity to attend religious services provided by a chaplain, an uncommon event aboard destroyers and cruisers. The Holy Helo program extends beyond the TRCSG to any allied ship within 100 nautical miles.

     “I’m the only priest embarked with the [TR] strike group,” said Chaplain Lt. Eduardo Amora. “Everyone on the TR has the opportunity to see me, but our other Sailors don’t get this chance as often.”

     Amora, along with Religious Program Specialist 2nd Class Michael Judge, recently traveled to the

guided-missile destroyer USS Paul Hamilton

(DDG 60) to deliver a Catholic Mass to the congregation on board.

     Amora and Judge received a welcome reception by the Sailors, and both were appreciative of the opportunity.

     “It’s a lot of work getting everything together for this, but it’s worth it,” said Judge. “I love getting the chance to talk to everyone on the other ships and learning about how things are there. This is my second time doing the Holy Helo and I’m really glad I got to fly off again.”

     During the Easter holiday weekend, Sailors assigned to ships of the TRCSG received a visit from Amora during the first Holy Helo mission of the deployment.

     Lt. Brian Strong, a native of Long Island, New York, attended Amora’s service onboard the Arleigh-Burke class guided missile destroyer USS Farragut (DDG 99).

     “I was very grateful to have Father Amora onboard,” said Strong. “Sundays away from my family are difficult but having him on board to celebrate the sacraments helps unify our Catholic community and strengthens our underway family.”

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      Quartermaster 3rd Class Sabrina Garcia, assigned to the Ticonderoga-class guided-missile Cruiser USS Normandy said that the Holy Helo visit was an important moment for her and her shipmates.

     “It really speaks to how well we are taken care of,” said Garcia. “I think everyone is glad we got the opportunity to have a chaplain [aboard] and it meant a lot for the chaplain to come out to our ship through the Holy Helo.”

     With two successful Holy Helo missions completed, TR’s religious ministries department continues to plan future ministerial visits.

     “It is our desire to ensure that every ship close to us has the ability to meet with a chaplain,” said Cmdr. Kim Donahue, TR’s command chaplain. “We’re here to make sure their spiritual needs are taken care of and they have the ability to speak with someone with full confidentiality.”

     Unfortunately TR’s chaplains can’t always tend to the spiritual needs of the entire strike group. Luckily, Holy Helo is not a one-way operation. Chaplains from any ship or shore command in the area of the separated ships can be flown out to meet Sailors’ needs.

     Donahue said it was the responsibility of chaplains to be there for Sailors. She summed up their role by citing Rear Adm. Margaret Kibben’s, Navy chief of chaplains, favorite mantra, “…where it matters, when it matters, with what matters.

     Theodore Roosevelt is the flagship of the Theodore Roosevelt Carrier Strike Group (TRCSG), which is composed of Carrier Strike Group 12, Carrier Air Wing 1, Destroyer Squadron 2 staff, the guided-missile cruiser USS Normandy (CG 60) and the guided-missile destroyers USS Winston S. Churchill (DDG 81), USS Farragut (DDG 99) and USS Forrest Sherman (DDG 98).
          

 

Former TR Airman Returns as Master Chief

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     Aerographer’s Mate Master Chief (select) Manuel Santos stood with his son, Personnel Specialist 3rd Class Osckar Santiago, on the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) , May 4, wearing the anchor and star of a senior chief petty officer. Moments later, his son removed the collar device and pinned his father with the two-starred anchor of a master chief.

     Santos was a young airman learning his way around the Navy when he first stepped aboard TR in 1994. More than two decades later, he was promoted to the Navy’s highest enlisted rank on board the same ship where his career started.

     “It’s surreal to think about it,” said Santos. “When I first came here I was painting and [working] on the mess decks like every young Sailor. 21 years later, I’m back here getting pinned as a master chief. It’s a really humbling experience returning to your roots.”

     Following in his father’s footsteps, TR is Santiago’s first ship following two years of shore duty at Personnel Support Detachment Afloat, Norfolk, Va.

     “It’s exciting knowing that he [Santos] was here before too,” said Santiago. “It’s like already having a mentor as soon as you get to the ship.”

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     Attached to Destroyer Squadron 2, Santos reported to TR for the second time shortly before TR left for deployment.

     “Having my son here with me makes it feel more like home,” said Santos. “The Navy has been great to me, but one day I’ll have to retire. Family is forever.”

     Santiago said that he has also enjoyed the months spent with his father during this deployment, and their bond makes time away from home much easier.

     “Usually you don’t get to see your family a lot so it was nice being able to talk to him every day,” said Santiago.

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      Along with his son, Santos chose his protégé, Aerographer’s Mate Airman Julien Patton, to ceremoniously pin him with his master chief collar devices.

     “The two of them represented important things in my life,” said Santos. “I wanted my son there because he’s my family and that’s what’s most important to me. I also wanted to have Airman Patton there because he represents where I started from.”

     Santos departed TR following the recent Bahrain port visit. As his career came full circle on TR, the newly pinned master chief left behind words of wisdom for all the Sailors on board.

     “Do the right thing for [everyone who] works for you and your evaluations will write themselves,” said Santos. “Don’t live every day waiting to see if you got selected for advancement. Just take care of your people and everything will work out.”

      Theodore Roosevelt is the flagship of the Theodore Roosevelt Carrier Strike Group (TRCSG), which is composed of Carrier Strike Group 12, Carrier Air Wing 1, Destroyer Squadron 2 staff, the guided-missile cruiser USS Normandy (CG 60) and the guided-missile destroyers USS Winston S. Churchill (DDG 81), USS Farragut (DDG 90) and USS Forrest Sherman (DDG 98).

      Theodore Roosevelt is deployed in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations supporting Operation Inherent Resolve, strike operations in Iraq and Syria as directed, maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the region.

By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Taylor L. Jackson, USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) Public Affairs

Time to Unwind in Bahrain

 

150507-N-PG340-143 U.S. 5TH FLEET AREA OF OPERATIONS (May 07, 2015) – Sailors from the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) participate in a Morale Welfare and Recreation (MWR) sponsored cultural tour in Manama, Bahrain. During the tour Sailors visited a camel farm, the Bahrain National Museum and a Bahraini fort. Theodore Roosevelt is deployed in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations supporting Operation Inherent Resolve, strike operations in Iraq and Syria as directed, maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the region. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Stephane Belcher/Released)

After 38 consecutive days at-sea Sailors aboard the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) took some time to unwind during a four-day visit to Manama, Bahrain, May 4-8.

     During the port call, TR’s Morale, Welfare and Recreation (MWR) department offered a variety of tours and events to the Rough Riders including a tour of the Grand Mosque, a cultural tour, a trip to the Lost Paradise water park, a dolphin swim, a beach barbecue at Al Bander Resort, go-kart racing, horseback riding, 5k and 3k fun runs, a golf day, and a spa trip.

     Megan Villapudua, TR’s funboss, visited Bahrain twice before with the Enterprise-class aircraft carrier USS Enterprise (CVN 65) and her experience ensured this port visit was a complete success.

    “The process was smoother this time around,” said Villapudua. “I think it went well. Tours got off on time and they were shorter tours than England, but some of them, like the Al Bander beach barbecue and the cultural tour, were really popular.”

     Lt. Cmdr. Aaron Miller, a TR command chaplain, went on the cultural tour, which included a visit to a camel farm, a mosque, the Bahrain National Museum, a fort, and a sweets shop.

 

150507-N-PG340-096 U.S. 5TH FLEET AREA OF OPERATIONS (May 07, 2015) – Sailors from the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) participate in a Morale Welfare and Recreation (MWR) sponsored cultural tour in Manama, Bahrain. During the tour Sailors visited a camel farm, the Bahrain National Museum and a Bahraini fort. Theodore Roosevelt is deployed in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations supporting Operation Inherent Resolve, strike operations in Iraq and Syria as directed, maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the region. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Stephane Belcher/Released)

  “Overall, I loved it. It was good,” said Miller. “I wasn’t sure what to expect from it. It was more hands on and you really got to see the authentic culture, which I liked.”

     Miller liked the fact that the tour offered a chance to see and experience things that would be difficult to find on your own.

   “My favorite part was when we stopped at the sweet shop,” said Miller. “The shop was really neat. It was very old and it was owned by a family. It was extremely authentic and it was not a place I would have ever seen on my own. It was off the main street in an alleyway. I really enjoyed it. It was a fun experience.”

 

150507-N-PG340-204 U.S. 5TH FLEET AREA OF OPERATIONS (May 07, 2015) – Sailors from the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) participate in a Morale Welfare and Recreation (MWR) sponsored cultural tour in Manama, Bahrain. During the tour Sailors visited a camel farm, the Bahrain National Museum and a Bahraini fort. Theodore Roosevelt is deployed in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations supporting Operation Inherent Resolve, strike operations in Iraq and Syria as directed, maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the region. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Stephane Belcher/Released)

   Although TR’s crew had fun on tours, some Sailors decided to relax and spend their time at NSA Bahrain.

     “I went to the pool and enjoyed the sun,” said Machinist Mate 3rd Class Sean Courtney. “[Being outdoors] was the best part of my visit to NSA Bahrain.”

   “I got to do a lot of shopping at the [Navy Exchange],” said Aerographer’s Mate 2nd Class Kevin McGee. “I got everything I needed.”

     Sailors also enjoyed myriad entertainment options provided on base.

     “The base was really excited to have us there and people on the ship got a chance to catch up,” said Villapudua. “They went and saw [The Avengers: Age of Ultron], they could go to the [Navy Exchange] and there were concerts with a DJ every night. We were open to the fact that it was a different kind of port visit.”

     After a few days of liberty, TR’s back underway in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations supporting Operation Inherent Resolve, strike operations in Iraq and Syria as directed, maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the region.     Theodore Roosevelt is the flagship of the Theodore Roosevelt Carrier Strike Group (TRCSG), which is composed of Carrier Strike Group 12, Carrier Air Wing 1, Destroyer Squadron 2 staff, the guided-missile cruiser USS Normandy (CG 60) and the guided-missile destroyers USS Winston S. Churchill (DDG 81), USS Farragut (DDG 99) and USS Forrest Sherman (DDG 98).

By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Kris R. Lindstrom, USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) Public Affairs

 

Join the conversation with TR online at http://www.facebook.com/USSTheodoreRoosevelt and http://www.Twitter.com/TheRealCVN71. For more news from USS Theodore Roosevelt, visit  www.navy.mil/local/cvn71/.

 

Sankofa: One Navy Chief Reaches Back, and Pays it Forward

“Sankofa” is a word and symbol that means to “return and collect it.” It comes from the Akan people of Ghana who use it as a warning. Sankofa is a reminder to search through the groves of the past and bring back lessons, principles and stories to plant the seeds for the future. The Akan adage is a cautionary tale; if one does not remember their humble beginnings, they are doomed to fail.

            The Sankofa is pictured as a bird whose head is faced in the opposite direction of his body and the bird carries an egg on his back that represents the past. The bird reaches back for the days gone by, symbolizing that even as one progresses, periodically one must make a point to return to history to make a better future.

            One of the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt’s very own, “returned to collect,” some valuable lessons. Former plane captain, Chief Mass Communication Specialist Herbert Banks, went back to his roots with The Red Ripper Line Division of Strike Fighter Attack Squadron (VFA) 11.

 

150416-N-FI568-022 U.S. 5TH FLEET AREA OF OPERATIONS (April 16, 2015)- A Sailor chains down an F/A-18F Super Hornet assigned to the Red Rippers of Strike Fighter Attack Squadron (VFA) 11 on the flight deck of the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71). Theodore Roosevelt is deployed in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations supporting Operation Inherent Resolve, strike operations in Iraq and Syria as directed, maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the region. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Taylor L. Jackson/Released)

 

            From Washington, D.C., Banks enlisted in the Navy, August 5, 1998, as an undesignated airman under the pretext he would be able to work for each work center to decide what job he would like to strike for. When he checked into his first command, he was in for a surprise.

            “I checked into VF 32’s Tomcat squadron after boot camp and was sent straight to the line shack to be a plane captain,” said Banks. “Most of your air rates spend time in the line shack before you head to their division, so that’s where I went first.”

            Banks admits his first tour was quite a rude awakening.

            “It’s a lot of hard work that I was not accustomed to. It wasn’t until the end of my time there that I truly appreciated the experience,” said Banks. “I was with VF 32 for three years, but for a city boy like me, those three years toting those chains and prepping that aircraft were definitely challenging.”

            Following his tour as a brown shirt, Banks became a photographer’s mate after striking into the rate. Since then photographer’s mates have merged with journalists, lithographer’s mates and draftsmen to become mass communication specialists.

Banks gradually climbed the ranks and pinned on chief’s anchors in 2011. Then, after serving as an instructor to MCs at the Defense Information School in Fort Meade, Md., Banks took orders to TR as the media department departmental leading chief petty officer (DLCPO). That is when fate and opportunity introduced themselves and Banks met VFA 11’s Chief Aviation Structural Mechanic Thomas McVick.

            “I talk to VFA 11’s line division chief in the chiefs mess all the time,” said Banks. “When he first embarked, I saw his brown shirt and sparked a conversation up with him. Whenever I see a Sailor in a brown shirt in the [passageways] it means a little bit to me. I feel a lot of pride. So when I saw Chief McVicker down in the Chief’s Mess I asked him if he’d let me come up [to the flight deck] and get my hands dirty again.”

            McVicker was happy to have Banks spend a day with his squadron and said he shared his admiration for the men and women in brown jerseys.

            “The bedrock of success here in the Ripper Line Division is simple and clear; pride and professionalism,” McVicker said. “These values are immediately instilled into our Sailors on their first day in the Navy and they define who we are. I couldn’t be more proud of these young Americans. I appreciate Chief Banks taking the time to shine some light on my heroes.”

 

150427-N-ZF498-090 U.S. 5TH FLEET AREA OF OPERATIONS (April 17, 2015) – A Sailor attached to the Red Rippers of Strike Fighter Attack Squadron (VFA 11) ties down an F/A-18F Super hornet on the flight deck of the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71). Theodore Roosevelt is deployed in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations supporting Operation Inherent Resolve, strike operations in Iraq and Syria as directed, maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the region. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Anthony N. Hilkowski/Released)

             Before Banks re-joined the line shack crew for a day as a plane captain, he had one request.

            “I told Chief [McVicker] that I’d find a way to get from behind my desk on one condition,” Banks said through his laughter. “I had to have my own brown jersey again.”

            “It was nostalgic being back in that small shop,” he added. “There’s a bunch of people in a room almost the size of a jail cell. They’re coming and going, there’s night check and day crew. There’s a lot of moving parts: prepping gear, putting on float coats, signing off paperwork. It smells like fuel, oil and hard work.”

            Banks met with the crew on the flight deck and didn’t hesitate to jump right in, side by side with the other plane captains. He helped prepare the aircraft and conduct routine maintenance.

            “I got to hang out with the crew,” said Banks. “We prepped the jet but once the jet taxis to the catapult, the plane captains have to standby with the chains on their shoulders until the jet takes off. Sometimes you can have as many as 10 chains on at a time, weighing 10 pounds apiece. The younger guys were hesitant to let me hold the chains. A lot of them said, ‘No, Chief, I got it.’ But I wanted to feel like a line rat again! They were actually surprised. I helped one Sailor launch a jet and helped another recover a few.”

            The line shack ensures the airplane is airworthy and safe to operate before launching the multi-million dollar jet and its pilot off the flight deck. Plane captains play an integral role in the mission and have an incredible amount of responsibility.

            VFA 11 plane captain Aviation Ordnance Airman Blake Triplett doesn’t take the responsibility lightly.

            “It’s a family – it has to be,” Triplett said. “You can’t afford to not get along. We depend on one another.”

Aviation Machinist’s Mate Airman William Moody, another VFA 11 plane captain, agreed that the squadron’s camaraderie is paramount and he attributes their morale to their leadership.

            “From our [leading petty officer] to our chief and the pilots – all of our leadership, they take really good care of us,” said Moody.

Electronics Technician 3rd Class Matthew Holland, also VFA 11 plane captain, said the temporary assigned duty position builds character.

            “We’re all different rates but being a plane captain really creates the foundation of whom you really are and who you’ll be in your rate. You have to earn your keep,” said Holland.

            Besides his duties as Media’s DLCPO, Banks serves as TR’s mentorship coordinator and what was supposed to be just a day on the flight deck turned into a day of mentorship as Banks offered some words to the crew.

            “As hard as the work was and as much as I may have hated it at the time, my time in the line shack is what shaped and molded me into who I am today,” said Banks.

“What I miss most is the camaraderie,” he added. “The teamwork in the line shack is like none other. Everyone is going through the same thing so you have to come together to persevere. That amount of time I spent as a plane captain was truly a beautiful time. We may have had our disagreements amongst each other but when it was time to step on that deck, we got the job done and we did whatever we had to do to help each other out.”

After reliving his time as a plane captain, Banks reminded the brown shirts that they are appreciated.

“A lot of people rely on those inspections, that maintenance and all of the surveys they do on the aircraft,” he said. “If those Sailors don’t have a certain amount of pride and respect for what they do, I just want them to know that I do.”

Banks “reached back,” and paid it forward. He said he was glad he was able to meet the Red Rippers of VFA 11 and hoped he was able to pass down some of the lessons he learned in the line shack.

“I appreciate Chief McVicker and the Red Rippers,” said Banks. “They’ve got a good crew up there and I hope they’ll have me back soon. I appreciate them for welcoming me and allowing me to relive the moments that I didn’t appreciate before. Being in the line shack gave me the work ethic I have, and I am the man I am today because of the time I spent as a brown shirt. I wouldn’t have done it any other way.”

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Danica M. Sirmans, USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) Public Affairs

Operation Gratitude

 

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The unmistakable roar of jets launching and landing aboard the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) reverberated through the signal shack while Sailors with smile-creased faces rummaged through boxes filled with snacks, letters and other luxuries.

     These Sailors from TR’s Navigation department were just the latest recipients of care packages sent by a group of grateful strangers.

     “I found out about the program while I was on my second deployment on the USS Enterprise (CVN 65),” said Quartermaster 2nd Class Meghan Carter. “A Sailor’s wife signed us all up and we all got unexpected care packages.”

     This time it was Carter’s turn to make sure her shipmates received recognition for their service when she signed up for the appreciative parcels through the program Operation Gratitude.  

     “We got a little bit of everything in our packages; things like sunscreen, cold medicine, sewing kits, books, DVDs, toiletries, candy, and coffee,” said Carter. “Not to mention we all got letters from students around the country.”

     Operation Gratitude, founded in 2003, is a non-profit organization that annually sends more than 100,000 care packages to America’s deployed forces around the world. Funded entirely by private donations and the volunteered time of grateful Americans, the program has mailed more than 1.2 million packages to service members since its inception.

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     “Mail day is a lot like Christmas morning when you’re on deployment,” said Carter. “People get antsy waiting when they know that the mail is coming. I thought it would be a good morale booster for everyone, since only five of the 22 people in our department have ever deployed.”

     In return, the Sailor’s from Navigation department plan on putting together a few packages of their own filled with letters of gratitude and photos of themselves displaying what they received from Operation Gratitude.

     “To show our appreciation for the care packages and the work that went into them, we are going to send the organization an American flag that we have flown while on deployment, not just from Navigation department, but from the whole ship as I’m sure that there are other people [on the ship] who received packages from Operation Gratitude,” said Carter.

     Operation Gratitude sends packages not only to individuals, but to large groups as well.

     “The organization sends packages twice per year and it is super easy to get enrolled,” said Carter. “All you have to do is go to their website and sign up.”

     To sign up for the program visit Operation Gratitude’s website at www.operationgratitude.com.

By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class William Spears, USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) Public Affairs

Join the conversation with TR online at http://www.facebook.com/USSTheodoreRoosevelt and http://www.Twitter.com/TheRealCVN71. For more news from USS Theodore Roosevelt, visit http://www.navy.mil/local/cvn71/.

 

Happy Birthday from TR

150424-N-SI600-073Service members flooded the aft mess decks. Their smiles just as festive and cheerful as the decorations scattered about the tables and bulkheads. Balloons and paper palm trees filled the space in abundance while laughter spilled into the air. Officers and first class petty officers donned paper food service attendant hats and set tables adorned with colorful tablecloths. Music and laughter filled the air as Theodore Roosevelt wished a happy birthday to its Sailors and Marines with a special birthday dinner.

     More than 100 Sailors attended the meal in the aft mess decks, April 26. The crew celebrated USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) service members’ birthdays occurring within the month of April.

     TR’s First Class Petty Officer Association and the Mustang Association organized the first birthday celebration of its kind to give crewmembers a chance to enjoy their birthday with a pleasant dinner.

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  This month’s birthday meal included steak, chicken and lobster tails prepared by the ship’s culinary specialists while Morale, Welfare, and Recreation prepared the decorations.

     “Everyone did an amazing job putting all of this together,” said Logistics Specialist 2nd Class Robert Mayfield, who attended the event to celebrate his April birthday. “Celebrating a birthday at sea couldn’t get any better.”

     Culinary Specialist 1st Class Anthony Scott took the lead coordinating the event.

     “This was an opportunity for our different leadership associations to show support for our Sailors,” said Scott. “We want to give each Sailor the chance to celebrate their birthday, and there’s no better time than now while we’re out to sea.”

     The Mustang Association seated Sailors at their tables and served each person their meal. Chief Warrant Officer Benny Brockington, TR’s Food Service Officer, helped set the tables and prepared desserts.

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  “Birthday dinners are always a big morale booster,” said Brockington. “We realize how important birthdays are, and we want to make each of our Sailors feel special.”

   The meal kicked off with Lt. John Gibson, Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 1 chaplain, saying a prayer to bless the food before everyone dug in.

     “The First Class Petty Officer Association does some amazing things for the Sailors here,” said Air Traffic Controlman 2nd Class Jennifer Dove. “I really appreciate what they did to celebrate all of our birthdays, and it shows how much they care about their people.”

     In the end, the effort to show appreciation paid off. TR will host a birthday dinner every month, so if your birthday is coming up be on the lookout for your special meal.

            Theodore Roosevelt is the flagship of the Theodore Roosevelt Carrier Strike Group (TRCSG), which is composed of Carrier Strike Group 12, Carrier Air Wing 1, Destroyer Squadron 2 staff, the guided-missile cruiser USS Normandy (CG 60) and the guided-missile destroyers USS Winston S. Churchill (DDG 81), USS Farragut (DDG 99) and USS Forrest Sherman (DDG 98).

 

By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Taylor L. Jackson, USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) Public Affairs

 

Join the conversation with TR online at http://www.facebook.com/USSTheodoreRoosevelt and http://www.Twitter.com/TheRealCVN71. For more news from USS Theodore Roosevelt, visit  www.navy.mil/local/cvn71/.

Earth Day: Sorting Trash Saves The Environment

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Sterile, blue latex gloves snap against the hands of Sailors preparing to start their day in a place you may not often think about. These crewmembers work in a place you rely on, on station around the clock even after Earth Day passes.

     U.S. Navy commands all over the world celebrated Earth Day, April 22. Although USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) is forward-deployed to the 5th Fleet area of operations, the ship still did her part by continuing to separate trash to help keep the environment around her clean.

     In one of several waste rooms aboard TR, a mighty few of the aircraft carrier’s Sailors sort through the day’s accumulation of trash.

     Theodore Roosevelt’s waste management team does more than meets the eye. The team’s charge isn’t just about getting garbage out of each space, but more focused on challenging the entire crew to make sure everything is sorted properly and to keep the environment clean.

     “Our job is already hard enough. Our guys are there to run the equipment and process it,” said Machinist’s Mate 2nd Class John Detamore. “It’s not [our people’s] job to sort the trash. That’s why we put it out to everyone to sort their trash.”

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TR’s waste management team is composed of nine machinist’s mates who are a part of Engineering department’s A-Division. The team has several temporary assigned duty personnel who help aid the process of getting trash off the ship.

     “There’s a lot that goes into the procedures of how we handle trash, like when we can light off the incinerator and when we can’t,” said Machinist’s Mate 3rd Class Julia Gardner. “We have to be a certain distance from land to dump certain types of waste.”

     The ship needs to be at least three nautical miles to discharge food waste from the pulpers and at least 25 miles to discharge metal through the trash shoots and into the ocean, said Gardner.

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  “If you don’t sort it properly, and it doesn’t get caught, not only will it ruin our equipment, but it also can compromise what the [Environmental Protection Agency] EPA has set in place for us,” Gardner added.

     Sorting trash not only eases the workload for the waste management team, but is critical for the environment in addition to maintaining the equipment.

     “If we have a bag of metal and there was plastic in it and that plastic somehow gets out, [marine life] could swallow it,” said Detamore. “Not only is it bad for the environment, but our ship could face a huge fine.”

     The plastic is melted down and processed into oversized plastic “pucks”. Of all the refuse that is taken to the waste rooms, plastic is the only thing that is not allowed to be dumped overboard.

     “Plastic pucks get offloaded during our underway replenishments,” said Detamore. “We are offloading anywhere between 15 to 30 tri-walls full of pucks. They get taken over to the other ship during the UNREP [underway replenishment], and they take it back to shore and can process and take it to a recycling plant.”

     “We don’t ask for much,” said Gardner. “We really need people to sort their trash thoroughly and make sure they separate everything. We can, and we do, turn people away. Making sure the trash is sorted is so much more important than some people realize.”

Join the conversation with TR online at http://www.facebook.com/USSTheodoreRoosevelt and http://www.Twitter.com/TheRealCVN71. For more news from USS Theodore Roosevelt, visit http://www.navy.mil/local/cvn71/.