The Navy’s newest aircraft carrier, the George H.W. Bush, with its motto “Freedom at Work,” will deploy next May carrying an array of technological improvements, but its real assets will be in the people on board who proudly represent the diversity of our country, the advancements of the Navy with women in command, and the strength of our shared ideals as Americans. Their character and ability, from the deck crew to the commander, set an inspiring example for the nation.
As an Army veteran and West Point graduate, I was honored to have the opportunity to tour the ship in my current role as the president of the Pentagon Federal Credit Union Foundation. As a former Army Aviator, I expected to be impressed and fascinated by the flight line and F/A-18 Super Hornets onboard America’s newest multi-billion dollar runway. The technology didn’t disappoint, however, it was the professionalism, dedication and values of the 3,500 sailors onboard that captured my attention. It left such an indelible impression on me that I felt it should be shared with all Americans.
The George H.W. Bush represents the ingenuity and hard work that defines our nation. The construction is unmatched, with two thirty-ton rudders, an air wing comprised of eight squadrons, four strike fighter squadrons, and a helicopter combat sea squadron. The ship’s length nearly matches the height of the Empire State building and its top speed exceeds thirty knots.
The ship’s commander “Chip” Miller, a Naval Academy graduate, spent his entire career leading naval personnel and his abilities were evident during my tour. It was clear that the success of the George H. W. Bush is not in the beams, wires and aircrafts, but, in the Navy personnel who exemplify the slogan, Freedom at Work, by operating with integrity and working as a team.
The teamwork on board is without equal. Thousands of men and women from all parts of the country and of varying backgrounds worked together to carry out the great responsibility of operating this commanding warship. I saw Brooklyn and the Bronx, Chicago and Cincinnati, Detroit and Denver, and young men and women from the California coast. United as Americans, I could sense their pride in taking part in a mission far greater than themselves; they brought the ship to life and gave it meaning.
The microcosm of America represented on board includes many female personnel and demonstrates the indispensable role of women in the Navy. Since the legislation allowing women in military academies went into effect in 1976 and the first woman graduated from the Naval Academy in 1980, women have quickly risen through the ranks.
Chip’s boss, Admiral Nora Tyson, is the Commander of Carrier Strike Group Two and the most senior officer on board. She oversees the USS Bush and all the ships within the carrier strike group. Admiral Tyson has spent her entire adult life giving back to her country by leading Navy personnel around the globe. On the other end of the spectrum, the ship’s newest female aviator, a recent Naval Academy graduate, call sign “DOFY”, is working on a path to one day advance to the highest levels of the Navy herself.
The opportunity to meet and observe these exemplary individuals gave me great confidence in their ability to undertake the responsibilities of deployment. Every detail of the George H. W. Bush requires attention and every person aboard plays a vital and indispensible role. The people who operate elevators, drive tractors, and fuel aircraft are as important and contribute to the ultimate success of the ship and its mission just as much as the nuclear engineers aboard who manage the two nuclear reactors that provide the propulsion. They all hold a deep belief that their individual roles are essential to the overall operation; their work ethic is driven by the knowledge that they are far stronger together than apart.
As I watched the thousands of personnel working together under Commander Miller’s and Admiral Tyson’s leadership, the endless possibilities for success were exciting, not only for our military, but for corporate America, and any other endeavor one aims for in our country. When we are motivated by something greater than ourselves, our lives acquire meaning and place any goal within reach. The Freedom at Work represents the best of our society and makes me proud to be an American, inspired by our Navy, and grateful for the men and women on board this spectacular ship. They truly represent the best America has to offer.
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