Fresh Anchors: Ford Pins New Chiefs

By Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Connor D. Loessin

HAMPTON, Va. (Sept. 16, 2016) -- Chief Navy Counselor Roynika Love cries as she is pinned to the rank of chief petty officer. Fifty-seven Ford Sailors were advanced to chief petty officer during the ceremony, attended by family, friends and crew members. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Connor Loessin/Released)

HAMPTON, Va. (Sept. 16, 2016) — Chief Navy Counselor Roynika Love is pinned to the rank of chief petty officer. Fifty-seven Ford Sailors were advanced to chief petty officer during the ceremony, attended by family, friends and crew members. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Connor Loessin/Released)

 

HAMPTON, VA.—Fifty-seven Pre-Commissioning Unit Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) chief petty officers were pinned to their new rank, Sept. 16.

Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy (MCPON) Steven S. Giordano, guest speaker for the ceremony, reaffirmed the importance of this milestone.

“I would like to congratulate all of our newest chief petty officers across the Navy and all their family members,” said MCPON, who offered the following advice to newly promoted chief petty officers.  “Be leaders. Continue to develop our Sailors, take care of our Sailors, and take care of their families. Educate them the right way so that they can make smart choices, so that they can be successful in life… If we can build that, our Navy is going to be extremely effective and continue to be the great Navy it is today.”

Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy Steven Giordano delivers remarks at the Pre-Commissioning Unit Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) 2016 chief pinning ceremony. Fifty-seven Ford Sailors were advanced to chief petty officer during the ceremony, attended by family, friends and crew members. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Connor Loessin/Released)

Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy Steven Giordano delivers remarks at the Pre-Commissioning Unit Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) 2016 chief pinning ceremony. Fifty-seven Ford Sailors were advanced to chief petty officer during the ceremony, attended by family, friends and crew members. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Connor Loessin/Released)

During the pinning ceremony, the new chiefs had their new rank insignia pinned to their collars by their friends and family. The insignia is a fouled anchor, symbolizing the trials and tribulations that every chief endures on a daily basis. Attached to the anchor is a length of chain and the letters U.S.N.  The “U” stands for unity, the “S” stands for service, and the “N” stands for navigation.  The chain is symbolic of flexibility.  The anchor itself embodies the hope and glory of chief petty officers.

“I’m overwhelmed with happiness,” said Chief Information Systems Technician Gregory Charles, after being pinned. “I love it, I love it, I love it.  I thank God and I appreciate everybody, all the shipmates, the Chief’s Mess. I’m truly grateful to be here.”

The ceremony was the conclusion to Phase Two of the CPO 365 program, which is a year-round training and development course for first class petty officers to become chief petty officers.

“Phase Two is a six-week process dedicated to honing leadership skills for the new chiefs who are our reliefs,” said Senior Chief Operations Specialist Michael Bengtson, Ford’s Phase Two lead. “It focuses on accountability, decisive decision making, and teamwork.”

At the end of the training process, the Sailors are ready to lead.

“I couldn’t be more proud of the 57 new chiefs who joined our mess today,” said Ford’s Command Master Chief Donnie Novak. “They are trained, motivated, and eager to assume their new responsibilities.  They are an impressive addition to an already strong Navy-wide Chiefs’ Mess.”

HAMPTON, Va. (Sept. 16, 2016) -- Mass Communication Specialist Bryan Weyers passes through the sideboys during a chief petty officer pinning ceremony held at the Hampton Roads Convention Center. Fifty-seven Ford Sailors were advanced to chief petty officer during the ceremony, attended by family, friends and crew members. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Matthew Fairchild/Released)

HAMPTON, Va. (Sept. 16, 2016) — Mass Communication Specialist Bryan Weyers passes through the sideboys during a chief petty officer pinning ceremony held at the Hampton Roads Convention Center. Fifty-seven Ford Sailors were advanced to chief petty officer during the ceremony, attended by family, friends and crew members. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Matthew Fairchild/Released)

 

 

 

The Answer Is…

By Pre-Commissioning Unit Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) Media Department

If you were playing a game of Jeopardy and the category was the history of Pre-Commissioning Unit Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78), would you know the response to the following clue?

This trivia-loving Navy Judge Advocate General (JAG) was the first Sailor from the crew of Gerald R. Ford to appear on Jeopardy.

The correct response would be: Who is Lt. Barbara Colberg?

Former Pre-Commissioning Unit Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) Sailor Lt. Barbara Colberg poses for a picture with Jeopardy host Alex Trebec after competing on the television show.

The daughter of a submariner, Colberg majored in Economics and Spanish at Ohio State University, and earned her law degree from the University of Virginia. She chose to serve in the JAG Corps and was the number two officer in Ford’s legal department.

“The absolute best thing about being assigned to Ford was getting to work with such an amazing crew,” said Colberg. “JAGs don’t often get the opportunity to work with Sailors outside of the Legalman rating, so being able to meet so many incredibly hard-working, motivated, and talented Sailors across a variety of different ratings was a privilege and a joy.”

“She’s a phenomenal officer – insightful, and mature beyond her rank,” said Lt. Cmdr. Matt Cutchen, head of Ford’s legal department.

A long-time fan of the popular game show, Colberg, now assigned as a Legal Assistant Attorney in Newport, Rhode Island, was thrilled to be selected for competition.

When the segment aired Sept. 14, there was no shortage of Shipmates from her former command cheering her on.

Colberg had a strong showing in categories ranging from awards for writing to languages to geography. After correctly answering the Final Jeopardy question, Colberg ended the game with $25,559. The impressive showing earned her second place.

Just for fun… Colberg nailed the response to the Final Jeopardy clue. Do you know the answer?

20TH CENTURY SCIENCE TERMS
This 4-letter word was introduced in London in 1905 by Dr. H.A. Des Voeux of the Coal Smoke Abatement Society.

Response: What is SMOG?

Ford Family Readiness Group

Ensuring Peace of Mind and Mission Readiness

Story by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Ryan Litzenberger

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. – A Sailor’s life aboard ship can be demanding, especially when underway. The days are long and the work is challenging. Being a part of the pre-commissioning crew of an aircraft carrier, the first of its class, poses its own challenges as well.

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NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (June 11, 2016) — Tug boats maneuver Pre-Commissioning Unit Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78), into the James River during the ship’s Turn Ship evolution. This is a major milestone that brings the country’s newest aircraft carrier another step closer to delivery and commissioning later this year. (Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Cathrine Mae O. Campbell)

Shipboard testing, crew certifications, sea trials and other evolutions only become more stressful when Sailors are also worrying about their families at home. That’s where Pre-Commissioning Unit Gerald R. Ford’s (CVN 78) Family Readiness Group (FRG) comes into play.

An FRG is a command-sponsored organization made up of spouses, parents, siblings, relatives, and approved friends of military personnel whose goals are to offer family members a line of support to help cope with separation during deployments as well as other challenges that military life may present to families.

“When Sailors know they have an extended family who understands Navy life, it can be a huge relief for the families and reduce stressors that come from deployments,” said Suzanne Fairman, vice president of Ford’s FRG.

“I think of the FRG as an extension of the brotherhood of the military,” said Laura Bitzer, secretary of Ford’s FRG. “We provide a network of support and shared experiences and can help each other out during rough times.”

“We provide events for the families so that they can get to know one another in a fun and safe atmosphere,” said Pamela Hughens, president of Ford’s FRG. “Our role becomes even more important when the ship is deployed because we can provide a welcoming distraction with meet and greets, play dates and other events to keep our families connected and having fun so time passes more quickly.”

It also helps give the service members peace of mind that their families are being taken care of while they are away.

“It benefits Sailors by alleviating one of their ever-present worries—concern for their families,” said Bitzer. “If a Sailor can be confident in the safety and (relative) happiness of their family, then they will be able to more effectively focus on operations and the command mission.”

PCU Gerald R. Ford Christening

NEWPORT NEWS, Va., (Nov. 9, 2013) – Service members, crew, their families and distinguished guests bow their heads as Navy Capt. Jerome Hinson gives a benediction during the ship’s christening ceremony. The Ford-class brings improved war fighting capacity, quality of life improvements and reduced acquisition and life cycle costs. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Patrick Grieco/RELEASED)

Joining Ford’s FRG will present great opportunities to establish a support network with other families of Ford Sailors and socialize with different people from various backgrounds says Fairman.

“To join is as simple as sending an email of interest so that we can establish contact information in order to share what we will be planning for future events,” said Fairman.

“We’ve had a slow start so far, with lots of unexpected challenges in getting everything together, but we have tons of great ideas for getting everyone involved and participating,” said Bitzer. “Anyone who is interested and would like to join us, please find us on Facebook! We would love to meet you and start building our extended Ford family!”

For more information or to join Ford’s Family Readiness Group, please contact Ford’s ombudsman or find the FRG on Facebook.

(www.facebook.com/groups/FordFRGCVN78)

Suicide prevention starts with a conversation

By Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Gitte Schirrmacher

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (Sept. 10, 2016) – Thousands of people walked at Mount Trashmore Park, some sporting t-shirts emblazoned with the names or photos of loved ones, others sported brightly colored satin ribbons. Though this gathering may have seemed festive, for those attending, it carried a heavier meaning.

The 11th Annual Out of the Darkness Community Walk in Virginia Beach brought together those who advocate for suicide prevention and awareness in a show of solidarity. Organized by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP), groups formed teams to walk and raise money that the organizations will use for research, education and awareness.

Out of the Darkness Walk

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (September 10, 2016) – Sailors assigned to Pre-Commissioning Unit Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) and their families walk in the 11th annual Out of the Darkness Community Walk at Mount Trashmore. Out of the Darkness Community Walks are organized by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention to raise awareness on the effects and warning signs of suicide. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Gitte Schirrmacher/Released)

Machinist’s Mate (Nuclear) 1st Class Sandra Bannister, assigned to Pre-Commissioning Unit Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78), organized the team from Ford for the walk this year.

“In 2015, we lost [Machinist’s Mate (Nuclear) 2nd Class] Michael Connell,” said Bannister. “A year prior to that, we lost [Machinist Mate (Nuclear) 3rd Class] Micah Farrell. We’ve lost two shipmates in two years.”

When Bannister walked in honor of her best friend, Farrell, Sept. 12, 2015, it was only five days later that Ford lost Connell. In both cases, neither Sailor showed any of the typically reported warning signs, said Bannister. What did happen was erratic behavior that could only be recognized by their peers as out of the ordinary.

“[Those are] factors where a conversation should start,” said Chief Religious Program Specialist Steven Zurek. “Should it start with ‘Are you thinking of suicide’ right off the bat? No. But ‘what are you thinking about?’ Then maybe that leads to the question of ‘are you thinking about suicide?’”

As Ford’s suicide prevention coordinator, Zurek brings suicide prevention and awareness to the crew, deals with the crisis response plan and provides suicide prevention training. Promoting awareness opens up a dialogue, which teaches others how to help those at risk of suicide and gives those at risk the resources to seek help, said Zurek.

“People don’t want to talk about it because it’s taboo,” said Bannister. “The more we talk about it and the more we make it a conversational topic, the less people are going to be afraid to come forward, to bring up their issues, talk about depression and to not feel like something is wrong with them.”

 

Out of the Darkness Walk

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (September 10, 2016) – Sailors assigned to Pre-Commissioning Unit Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) and their families walk in the 11th annual Out of the Darkness Community Walk at Mount Trashmore. Out of the Darkness Community Walks are organized by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention to raise awareness on the effects and warning signs of suicide. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Gitte Schirrmacher/Released)

Most people at risk of suicide want to tell their story but may be reluctant to share if a reliable avenue isn’t opened up to them to talk about it, said Zurek. Recognizing warning signs such as alcohol abuse, poor relationships, financial troubles and other erratic behavior give others a chance to intervene and ask the tough questions.

“Nobody knows your shipmates better than you do,” continued Zurek. “You have to have that conversation. ‘How are you doing? Are you okay?’ You know when things are changing. Be educated on the topic. Look for those invitations for help.”

Though September is Suicide Prevention Month, suicide prevention should happen 365 days a year.

For more information on suicide prevention and helpful resources go to www.suicide.navy.mil or www.veterancrisisline.net.

 

So Others May Live

What it takes to be a Navy Search and Rescue (SAR) swimmer

Story by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Cathrine Mae O. Campbell

Newport News, Va. (Aug. 31, 2016) – An aircrew has gone down in the middle of the ocean. Miles from shore and safety, they hope and wait for rescue. On board Pre-Commissioning Unit Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) word is passed that there are Sailors in the water. Without hesitation Gunners Mate 3rd Class Zachary Perez grabs his gear and makes his way to the helicopter spinning up on the flight deck. After a mad dash to the crash site, Perez calms his nerves before jumping from the hovering helicopter into the sea below. He swims furiously

SAR Swimmer training at ATG FRC-12

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (Sept. 8, 2016) — Gunner’s Mate 3rd Class Zachary Perez, assigned to Pre-Commissioning Unit Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78), practices search and rescue (SAR) swimmer techniques at Naval Station Norfolk Fleet Recreation Pool (FRP-12). Being a SAR swimmer is a voluntary duty for Sailors. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Cathrine Mae O. Campbell/Released)

toward the downed aviators, his sole mission: get them back to the ship safely. He reaches the downed survivors as he gives thumbs up to his instructor that everything is good to go. As he exits the pool he is confident knowing that when the time comes and this happens for real, he will be ready, for he is a U.S. Navy Search and Rescue (SAR) Swimmer.

“Our job is to save people’s lives,” said Lt. j.g. Brendan Shields, a certified SAR swimmer and Ford’s SAR Officer. “If there’s a man overboard or if a jet goes down in the water and the pilot has to eject, our job is to rescue them and bring them back to the ship alive.”

Fleet wide, two certified SAR Swimmers are required on board prior to going underway to take on SAR missions out at sea. Becoming a SAR Swimmer is voluntary and considered a collateral duty for Sailors.

“Being a SAR Swimmer is not your typical collateral duty,” said Lt. Cmdr. Edward Quinones, Ford deck department’s first lieutenant. “It is a highly demanding job both physically and mentally. It is also a very high visibility job because of the responsibilities they have once qualified. They are the first responder in the ocean, for any man overboard that may be called away. ”

SAR swimmer candidates undergo tough training to become certified.

SAR Swimmer training at ATG FRC-12

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (Sept. 8, 2016) — Gunner’s Mate 3rd Class Zachary Perez, assigned to Pre-Commissioning Unit Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78), practices search and rescue (SAR) swimmer techniques at Naval Station Norfolk Fleet Recreation Pool (FRP-12). Being a SAR swimmer is a voluntary duty for Sailors. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Cathrine Mae O. Campbell/Released)

“It’s a pretty physical job and it’s a lot of swimming,” said Perez, one of Ford’s SAR Swimmers. “Just like anything in the Navy, training is a lot harder than the actual situation you may encounter. We train like we fight and always prepare for the worst.”

Candidates are tested in five different areas before becoming a certified SAR Swimmer: a SAR fitness test, swim proficiency, in-water rescue scenarios, medical assessment, and a written test.

“The biggest thing is physical preparation,” Shields said. “You have to be in shape and definitely be a good

 

swimmer. It’s time demanding and physically challenging, so you do have to dedicate time outside of working hours to swim and physically train on your own.”

Perez said he trains at Langley Air Force Base during the week and welcomes any Sailor who is interested in learning more about the program.

“We are currently looking for candidates that will be part of the group that will attain Ford’s first SAR certification,” said Quinones. “It will be a huge win for the ship as we prepare for delivery, commissioning and beyond.”

Candidates interested in the program may contact Shields or Perez for more information.

SAR Swimmer training at ATG FRC-12

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (Sept. 8, 2016) — Gunner’s Mate 3rd Class Zachary Perez, assigned to Pre-Commissioning Unit Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78), practices search and rescue (SAR) swimmer techniques at Naval Station Norfolk Fleet Recreation Pool (FRP-12). Being a SAR swimmer is a voluntary duty for Sailors. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Cathrine Mae O. Campbell/Released)

SAR Swimmer training at ATG FRC-12

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (Sept. 8, 2016) — Gunner’s Mate 3rd Class Zachary Perez, assigned to Pre-Commissioning Unit Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78), practices search and rescue (SAR) swimmer techniques at Naval Station Norfolk Fleet Recreation Pool (FRP-12). Being a SAR swimmer is a voluntary duty for Sailors. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Cathrine Mae O. Campbell/Released)

SAR Swimmer training at ATG FRC-12

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (Sept. 8, 2016) — Gunner’s Mate 3rd Class Zachary Perez, assigned to Pre-Commissioning Unit Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78), practices search and rescue (SAR) swimmer techniques at Naval Station Norfolk Fleet Recreation Pool (FRP-12). Being a SAR swimmer is a voluntary duty for Sailors. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Cathrine Mae O. Campbell/Released)

Ford Chiefs rescue injured woman at WWII memorial

By MC1 (SW/AW) Joshua Sheppard

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. – Sailors assigned to Pre-Commissioning Unit Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) rescued a woman at the World War II Memorial in Washington D.C. Aug. 26.

The woman, suffering from heat exhaustion and dehydration, passed out and fell into the main memorial pool at the monument. Members of Ford’s Chief’s Mess and the Sailors selected to join the Mess this year were at the memorial for a CPO heritage trip when they noticed the woman and immediately took action.

“She looked like she was leaning down to get water from the pool when she kept going,” said Senior Chief Hospital Corpsman Brandon Ellison, Ford’s Command Climate Specialist.

Less than 30 seconds after falling into the pool, the CPO selectees pulled the woman out of the water with the help of Ellison, Senior Chief Hospital Corpsman Efrain Chaidez, and Chief Hospital Corpsman Cedric Gaines. The hospital corpsmen then began administering first aid.

“When she fell into the pool, she hit her head on the bottom before rolling onto her side,” said Ellison. “She had a pretty good bruise on her head and abrasions down her side.”

The Ford Sailors did not hesitate, and let their training take over. In this case, that training prevented a serious situation from becoming a potentially fatal one. 

The woman was not responsive when she was pulled from the pool, but regained awareness after approximately one minute. Ellison and Chaidez then contacted emergency services for further assistance.

“I’m very proud of how quickly and effectively our Chiefs responded to an emergency situation,” said Command Master Chief Donnie Novak. “This is exactly why all Sailors train on basic medical skills and shows how valuable it is for us to be prepared to react, no matter where the emergency happens.”


WASHINGTON (Aug 25, 2016) – Chief Petty Officer (CPO) selectees assigned to Pre-Commissioning Unit Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) visit the World War II memorial in Washington D.C. for a CPO heritage trip. While there, a woman suffering from heat exhaustion and dehydration passed out and fell into the main memorial pool at the monument. Members of Ford’s Chief’s Mess and the Sailors selected to join the Mess this year immediately took action to render aid and call emergency services. (U.S. Navy photos by Chief (Select) Mass Communication Specialist Bryan D. Weyers/Released)

Pre-Commissioning Unit Gerald R. Ford recognizes women in the Navy

Story by Ensign Corey T. Jones, PCU Gerald R. Ford Public Affairs

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. – U.S. Navy Sailor and President Gerald R. Ford, the 38th commander in chief, helped pave the way for female Sailors presently aboard his namesake carrier Pre-Commissioning Unit Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78), in an effort dating back to World War II.

During the war, many men in the United States fought in battles raging in Europe and the Pacific, including President Ford, then a young assistant navigator, leaving a noticeable void in the U.S. manufacturing sector.

Millions of women would soon transform their role from homemaker to one of factory worker as a result, and those who welded and riveted earned the nickname “Rosie,” flexing their muscles while ushering in a new era of inclusiveness and diversity in the workforce.

According to his presidential foundation, President Ford supported the Equal Rights Amendment and emphasized the need to increase the number of women in the federal government.

In March of 1975, President Ford directed that all persons have an opportunity to compete on a fair and equal basis for employment and advancement in the federal government. Ford stated his determination to eliminate all vestiges of discrimination within the federal government.

President Ford passed the Military Procurement Bill of 1975, which permitted women to be eligible for appointment and admission to the service academies for classes entering in 1976.

Aboard PCU Gerald R. Ford, thousands of women continue the tradition of excellence and inclusiveness set forth by President Ford and “Rosie the Riveter.”

Navy Aviation Maintenance Administrationman 3rd Class Keishunda Ellislee from Miami, Florida, is the first female in her family to join the military.

“I love when people break down barriers and open the doors for later generations to thrive,” said Ellislee. “I think the Navy has come a long way from where it was before.”

In the 28 years since Cmdr. Luis “Rick” Rivera, Aircraft Intermediate Maintenance Department head and Ellislee’s officer in charge, joined the Navy, he has noticed a drastic change in the roles women perform on ships.

“It is not only a great improvement all around for females in the military, but also all around for women in our society,” Rivera said. “My first cruises were male only.”

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Rivera recalled that women were eventually allowed on the ships working with phones or as nurses.

The Navy continues to push toward service member equality, said Rivera, and a number of females occupy senior leadership positions in his department aboard the carrier.

“We were resistant to change at first, but then once it is embraced it becomes really positive,” Rivera said. “Little by little that glass ceiling gets broken every day.”

The mission of the Aircraft Intermediate Maintenance Department is to provide maintenance, inspect, test, check, calibrate, lubricate and provide component repair to aircraft and support equipment, enhancing the effectiveness of embarked surface and aviation units.

The level of this capability ranges from the small, delicate work performed by micro-miniature repair technicians to complex work performed by jet engine mechanics.

The Department of the Navy continues to study equal opportunity, such as female combat endurance, while opening more roles to women.

“They bring that other view and that excellence shows in everything they do and I think of them as complete equals,” said Rivera.

Females may now serve aboard submarines, for example, and others from all communities and ratings will be afforded the opportunity to be among the first to join the U.S. naval submarine service.

“I’m just excited to see what the future holds – in the military and in the world,” said Ellislee. “I think women are really stepping out and venturing into new things.”

Ford is under construction at Huntington Ingalls Industries Newport News Shipbuilding.

We_Can_Do_It!