Friday, May 3, 2013

Finding Her Way

 By Logistics Specialist 3rd Class Courtney Enfield
I reported on board USS Nimitz on May 3, 2011. I guess I never really thought about the fact that I reported to the ship 36 years after it was commissioned.
When I arrived, the ship was dry docked in Bremerton, Wash. I reported very late on a Sunday night. I waited at the front gate for what felt like forever, when finally a girl in PT gear said she was a Logistics Specialist 2nd class and to follow her. I remember she walked so fast, I was just trying to look at the ship and take it all in. I’m all about moments, but everything happened so quickly. I felt like a lost puppy.
I was told to follow the crowd in the morning down to the ship, so I checked in to my barracks room for the night. That night I slept without a pillow, and I had just one sheet so I didn’t really get much sleep.
The next morning, I didn’t see a crowd. Luckily, my roommate waited for me and I was able to follow her to the ship. We got to the first check point, and I had to wait for a person from my division to escort me since we needed badges to enter the part of the shipyard where the ship was docked. It was a hectic morning to say the least.
I was still really lost on my second day here. I remember being by myself in what we call the tunnel, but I didn’t know it at the time. I asked the then executive officer, where the hangar bay was and he kind of gave me a puzzled look and pointed behind him. I was right next to it. Two years later, I’m still finding my way around the ship. I just barely got the O3 level down.
I remember going down into the dry dock and reaching up and touching the ship. That was a cool thing for me. I knew that not very many people would get a chance to do that and I’d probably never get the chance to again. I couldn’t believe it was just wooden blocks that were holding up an entire aircraft carrier.
I had never heard of Adm. Chester Nimitz before I reported, but I did a little research after I arrived and during one of the Captain’s calls we had in the hangar bay, the XO asked who commissioned the ship. I blurted out that it was Nimitz’ daughter, I didn’t even raise my hand but he heard me. I ended up winning head of the line privileges for chow for a day, which was awesome but I felt like that was worth a day off. It was a pretty hard question.
The first time I was underway on Nimitz was when the ship moved homeports from Bremerton to Everett. It was really exciting for me. I was happy I didn’t get seasick because there were really rough seas. It was the first time a lot of people had ever been underway-- everyone was exhausted, everyone was asleep, and there wasn’t a night check— nothing. I was told to stand the low visibility watch. Another person and I were up there for six hours in the freezing cold. After watch, I had about 20 minutes to sleep before I had to man the rails on the flight deck while the ship pulled in to port.
 That first underway wasn’t what I expected, but it was still really exciting for me. When we first got underway and the ship started moving, that was the coolest thing ever and I couldn’t wait for RIMPAC and deployment. I’m happy to finally be on deployment right now.
Last year I was in charge of all of the reactor materials and chemicals on board. That’s about $25 million worth of materials I was in charge of. I went through SMI which is a big supply inspection. During a previous inspection a year before, inventory was at 80 percent and it’s supposed to be at 100 percent. (That includes about 14,000 line items) So during RIMPAC, I would stay up all night and inventory everything. I got nominated for a Navy Achievement Medal (NAM). I didn’t end up getting it, but I did get a coin from a three-star admiral. Getting the Commander Navy Air Forces (CNAF) coin after such an important inspection was a great moment for me.
I was being recognized for all of my hard work. I put my heart and soul into that storeroom as an E-2 doing an E-6 job. It felt really good to know that people really do notice all of the hard work that you’re doing.
As of Tuesday, I am now working in Supply Quality Assurance (QA). Right now I’m just training. I work for the Assistant Supply Officer and the Supply Officer validating and verifying all of supply department’s inventories and paperwork, and providing them monthly reports. I feel like finally, two years later, I’m getting what I’ve been working for. I’ve worked hard since day one. I’m excited about the new division I’m working in. My leading petty officer (LPO) and chief are awesome and I’m excited for this opportunity.
It’s definitely been an emotional and physical rollercoaster for me. There have been times where I’ve lost sleep just to keep up with my workload, but at the same time I had the victory of getting advanced to 3rd class petty officer the last test cycle. I’ve never been a really good test taker, and the fact that I passed the test by so many points my first time up made me feel empowered. I’ve been to Hawaii, and I love being out to sea.
I love that the Navy takes me places I’ve never been.
 I’ve had some serious highs and lows, but I wouldn’t have been able to do it without a good attitude and a positive role model. My advice to new Sailors reporting to a ship is just to take it one day at a time. Expect the unexpected, but don’t take things too personally.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Dedicated to the community

Aviation Boatswain’s Mate (Handling) 2nd Class Adam Baez

Community service has sort of grown to become a passion of mine. It’s always something I wanted to do but never had time to do. It really kicked off when Nimitz was in dry dock in 2011. Since then I’ve just been on a roll with it. I enjoy doing it. It’s good to see the others who volunteer with me at different events enjoying the same things that I’m doing. The people that we’re volunteering to help enjoy having us there as much as we enjoy being there.
My first actual volunteer event with the ship was a week-long event at the Kitsap Rotary Club garage sale. My mentor at the time convinced me to go. It was at the point where I was thinking about becoming an officer.
He was rounding me out to become a better applicant, and it kind of developed me to become a better person.
It’s not something that I ever thought about doing before the Navy. Volunteering on a weekend? I’m not doing that. That’s was sort of my attitude. Before I really started volunteering, I’d sign up for these events, and I’d say “yeah, I’m going to do it.” But I’d never follow through. There are other people like that, which is fine. It’s a step. It’s better than not trying. But once you get past the initiation stage and actually commit to doing it, you open yourself to new experiences.
Once I built relationships with the establishments that we volunteer for, I was doing it all on my free time. I guess a prime example of my dedication to do this is I’m TAD (temporary assigned duty) right now to security. I don’t really do anything on our work days so that it doesn’t conflict with my schedule here on the ship.
I’m sacrificing my free time to come in on my days off and coordinate these events-- not just for myself, but for anyone who wants to be a part of it.
If you volunteer for something like Habitat for Humanity, you’re probably going to build a house. You know you’re going to have a hard day’s work. People may be deterred from that. Especially coming from a ship where people work throughout the day. The events that I like to coordinate are different. I have a good variety. We’re not doing so much hard physical labor per say, but we are spending the time and doing something fun with a group.
A lot of times I hear that people don’t know about events and things to do. That’s why I provide this information to them. I have a distribution list of people I email when there are events coming my way. When we were on RIMPAC, I actively searched for a volunteer opportunity in Hawaii. We ended up volunteering at a food bank. When I found that, I thought it was a good opportunity, but, it’s Hawaii. Who’s going to want to volunteer? But people did. That in itself, knowing that it’s more than just me going out and sponsoring these kinds of things, makes it a good experience for me.
People have their own drives and reasons to volunteer, you know, it could be just for the [Military Outstanding Volunteer Service] medal, which at first was maybe one of my goals as well. But once it steered away from that direction and I wasn’t just volunteering to get the hours, it became something I really enjoy doing.
I’ve made friends through volunteering. A lot of people involved know each other and get along well. I think it’d be a good opportunity for someone who’s new to the ship or just anyone who wants to meet new people and make new experiences. If you volunteer, you’re going to be working with others volunteers, you may gain a friendship from it; a mess decks buddy to hang out and eat with, you know, something like that. It is a big command and people don’t know a lot of people.
It’s been more than a year since dry dock, and I’m still actively volunteering. I hope it’ll continue when I get out of the military. I recently got married, we might have kids, and I’m looking to get into law enforcement. Finding time will be difficult, but I’ll never forget the experiences I’ve created here. 

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Soaring Above the Rest

Nearly 13 years ago, I felt like I was “stuck” in my hometown of El Paso, Texas. I knew that if I didn’t get out of there I wasn’t ever going to leave; it was just one of those situations. The problem was I didn’t have any plans-- didn’t set up for college or anything .The February before I graduated high school, I got a phone call. Somebody on the other line asked, “How would you like to have your college paid off, and get out of El Paso?” Those two things sounded great, especially since I was at a point in my life where I didn’t know what to do. 
 I joined the Navy as a fire controlman (FC) so I went into the advanced electronics career field. I did that for a little less than twelve years. It was at that point, I was at my second perform to serve (PTS) look.  I had been doing counseling before and I really enjoyed it. FC was closed up, which meant I wasn’t going to be able to reenlist as a fire contolman. Luckily for me,  PTS came back approved  and my options for convert were NC (navy counselor)  and NCR (navy counselor reserve). I decided that if FC is not the way for me, I’ll go on to bigger and better things. I chose career counselor because I like helping people.
After being on board USS Nimitz for just seven months as a navy counselor, I was selected as Senior Sailor of the quarter. I thought there was no way that I had a chance at all, especially since I just came onboard. All of those other stellar Sailors have their air and surface warfare qualifications, and they’ve been leading their Sailors for a lot longer than I have. There was definitely a lot of competition and I really don’t know how I made the cut. I’m only doing my part, I feel like I’m only doing my part. Those other fist classes are really top notch. It’s absolutely an honor. It was completely unexpected. I’m blushing here now because I still can’t believe it. This shows me that I’m heading in the right direction. Hopefully I can influence other people to break out of the norm. If everyone’s disgruntled, break out of the norm, share a smile with somebody. Help somebody out. Do a little more than your fair share; I think it’s all about morale. That’ll boost morale in my opinion. These awards aren’t necessary, but the command chooses to do it in order to recognize the people who are going out of their way to do a good job. It also encourages others to do something else to try to reach that point. I will continue to do the same.
Being a first class, you’re expected to be a leader. When you just do the bare minimum day in and day out, everyone below you can see what you’re doing and they learn from that. If you have a whole bunch of people who are following you and see that you don’t try to do anything over the top, you don’t try to do anything above what is required; they too will be average to subpar sailors. I’ve never wanted that for myself and I can only hope that I’ve influenced other people to strive to be excellent.
I’ve definitely grown up and I’ve learned a lot since joining the Navy. If I fail, I fail my sailors and I’m not going to let that happen. I only used to talk, hang out and get all of my information from people my own age. Being in the military you have friends who are way older than you, you have friends who are your age, and you have friends who are younger than you. You get to see things in a different light. You get to help influence the decisions in a good way those people who don’t know as much.
My advice to people who are losing motivation is to just smile through it and push ahead a little more. The more you push and sweat now, that’s less you have to do later on. It always ends up working out in the long run. When I was an FC our motto was work hard play harder. As long as the work gets done, time off and all of those extra incentives will come. You just have to work.