Boxer Holds Change of Command Ceremony

4 Nov

By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Veronica Mammina

 

The amphibious assault ship USS Boxer (LHD 4) held a change of command ceremony on the flight deck Oct 31.

Capt. Martin L. Pompeo relieved Capt. Keith G. Moore as commanding officer.

“What a fantastic bunch of folks, from the person who just most recently checked aboard to the XO [executive officer] and CMC [command master chief]. There’s not a finer group of individuals whom I’ve ever been associated with,” said Moore. “And those aren’t just words. That’s what I feel in my heart.”

Pompeo has spent most of his 33 years in the Navy affiliated with the amphibious community and has been stationed aboard Boxer previously.
“I am honored and humbled to be back onboard Boxer,” said Pompeo. “I know my place here.”
Pompeo discussed his command philosophy of maintaining readiness, safety and a good quality of life.

Moore will remain embarked aboard Boxer and assume the duties as the Deputy Commander of Amphibious Squadron One (PHIBRON 1).

Boxer is now undergoing a phased maintenance availability (PMA) at Naval Base San Diego.

Big Goals for Boxer Officer

31 Oct

SAN DIEGO — The desire to become a commanding officer is one of the highest aspirations for members of the Surface Warfare Officer (SWO) community. For Lt. Cmdr. Wilbert Breeden, the C5I officer aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Boxer (LHD 4), this goal is ambitious, but achievable.

On Oct. 1, 2014 Breeden passed his Command Qualification Board. It is just one of the many steps an officer has to take to become a commanding officer and take charge of a command.

“The command qualification board is the final step before a screening to command a ship at sea, so it’s a pretty big deal for a Surface Warfare Officer,” said Boxer’s Operations Officer Cmdr. Daniel Arthur.

Breeden initially joined the Navy on the enlisted side as a Sonar Technician. He advanced to Petty Officer 2nd class before he decided to try for an officer program.

Breeden had some college schooling prior to enlisting, and while he was training in “C” School he completed his degree. He applied to officer candidate school (OCS) and was accepted.

“It’s definitely been a goal,” said Breeden. “I came here enlisted, and decided to go the officer route. If you’re going to be a Surface Warfare Officer, being the Captain of a ship is a big privilege and honor.”

Officers first have to pass a command qualification exam, which tests knowledge of everything from tactics, to administration and personnel management.

“In order for my career to progress, getting that designation allows for my career to move up and it’s a huge responsibility to take care of a ship. It’s a really fascinating goal,” said Breeden.

Once they pass that command qualification exam they move on to a command qualification board.

“The board is chaired by an O-6 and it’s all sitting SWO commanding officers, all people currently in command of ships, and they each spend about an hour talking to you, checking out how you make decisions, talking to you about what your command philosophy is going to be, and seeing if you’re someone that they want commanding a surface ship,” said Arthur.

Along the way Breeden faced challenges, but with the help and support from his team he still performed his duties and made time to study.

“The C5I job is a massive job on the ship,” said Breeden. “I think one of the great things that happened here is that the Captain and the XO [Executive Officer] were great in supporting my need to study so as my time came closer, they allowed me more time to study, and I have a great supporting cast here too. I think if I hadn’t had such a great supporting cast along with the captain and the XO being supportive as well I don’t know that I could’ve found the time to accomplish this goal.’

Breeden looks forward to continuing the process and hopes to eventually achieve his goal, and take command of a destroyer.

“I wanted my career to progress,” said Breeden. “It helps me professionally. It helps me take care of my family. It benefits all the way around.”

1st Lieutenant Steps it up to Lieutenant Commander

31 Oct

By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Veronica Mammina

USS BOXER (LHD 4) – Lt. Carne Livingston wanted to stay Navy. He joined intending to stay in for the long run. He was up for his last screening to make lieutenant commander. This was the final shot.

“I was inspecting one of the unrep [underway replenishment] stations when I got the phone call from the AO [admin officer] congratulating me,” said Livingston.

In order to make O-4, lieutenants get two chances, or “looks”, from the Navy Personnel Command. If not chosen, they are forced to leave the Navy.

“I hadn’t made it my first time up and I when I did not select, I was worried I would have to find a new job.” said Livingston. “But, I was not planning on getting out until the Navy told me to get out.”

Livingston has been in the Navy for 11 years. He went through the reserve officer training corps (ROTC) program at the University of Idaho. He eventually ended up teaching at the Naval Academy for three years during a shore duty assignment.

“I think he’ll do great as a Lt. Cmdr. and was very happy to see him pick it up,” said Lt. Cmdr. Kenneth J. Maroon, Boxer’s electrical materiel officer and roommate aboard the ship. “As a leader, he’s got excellent attention to detail and a wealth of knowledge about being a SWO [surface warfare officer]. He’s definitely taught me a lot about the SWO life.”

Livingston holds an undergraduate degree in business management and a master’s degree from the Naval War College in national security and strategic studies.

“My next step is working on my screening for commander,” said Livingston. “I have around three years to build up my package again.”

Livingston is about to transfer from Boxer to check into Carrier Strike Group One aboard the USS Carl Vinson.

“Being a Lt. Cmdr, I definitely feel more pride and I encourage anyone looking to advance in the Navy to never give up,” said Livingston.

Maroon added that his advice to Sailors looking to advance would be to write down what they feel like they need to do for the next rank and review it with their chain of command.

“That allows their leadership to give them direct feedback on what they are doing, and lets them set goals that are applicable to their advancement,” said Maroon. “Sailors can definitely look up to Lt. Cmdr. Livingston because he genuinely cares about their well being and sets an excellent example of professionalism and leadership.”

USS Boxer Cleans up Ocean Beach

5 Sep

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Briana C. Taylor

SAN DIEGO (July 26, 2014) – He lifts up the front of his shirt with a gloved hand to wipe the sweat off his forehead. It’s hot. Everyone else is sweating too. It was cloudy and cool in the morning, but the sun burned the marine layer away just before he and the rest of the volunteers picked up their shovels.
Logistics Specialist 3rd Class Thomas Rios is no stranger to hard work as a member of the amphibious assault ship USS Boxer (LHD 4) Aviation Supply division.
Rios was an active community service volunteer before the Navy. He said this first community relations project since the start of his enlistment is especially rewarding.
“Worth it,” he said, gripping the handle of the shovel.
Sailors assigned to Boxer worked with volunteers from HandsOn San Diego, and the San Diego River Park Foundation to improve the landscape and home of indigenous vegetation in Ocean Beach, California.
“They showed up with their A game today,” said Aviation Ordnanceman Christopher Flores, Ordnance Informational System Administrator and Volunteer Coordinator for Boxer.
“I don’t think Volunteer Coordinator is an official job title,” said Flores, “but that’s what some people have been referring to me as.”
Flores was the Sailor who found the project, run by the San Diego River Park Foundation, using Volunteer Match to find opportunities for himself and his shipmates. This is his first community relations project (COMREL) while on Boxer.
“I was the volunteer coordinator at my last command,” he said. “The feeling went away, and I missed it. Now that we’re in port, I want to represent Boxer and get everyone involved.”
Participating Sailors arrived in Ocean Beach Saturday, July 26 at 9 a.m., and were greeted with smiles. Their hosts took them on a walking tour of the wetlands nature preserve. Sailors trudged through the sand, and were introduced to local flora and the San Diego river system.
“I didn’t even know San Diego had a river,” said Flores.

The area is a habitat for endangered birds, fish, mammals and plants, according to the San Diego River Park Foundation. More than 95 percent of those types of habitats no longer exist in California.
“I feel like I have a responsibility to help out since I’m here in San Diego,” said Rios. “You can’t just enjoy the weather. This is a beautiful land.”
Rios said he was pleased by how easy it is to be a volunteer in the Navy. He feels like he could ask any Sailor for volunteer opportunities and the information would be readily available.
“I feel like volunteerism is a part of our Naval Heritage,” said Flores. “I just want to be that face and that voice; to represent Boxer and get everyone involved.”
Boxer Sailors and other volunteers used mulch to make the public properties along the trail more visually appealing.
Flores said that the representatives from the San Diego River Park Foundation were impressed and pleased by the speed and enthusiasm Boxer Sailors had throughout the morning.
“I have to thank the chain of command,” said Flores. “That’s why we’re here today.”
Boxer Sailors were not alone. Multiple organizations participated that morning in the overall cleanup effort. Sailors worked alongside veterans and children.
“It’s not just a Naval thing,” said Rios. “It’s a whole California thing.”
Volunteer Match is a web-based organization that connects volunteers to over 90,000 nonprofits worldwide.
The San Diego River Park Foundation is a community-based nonprofit dedicated to improving the San Diego River system and preserving its native animal and plant life.

Thank God it’s Wednesday!

5 Sep

Story by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Robert R. Sanchez, USS
Boxer Public Affairs.
SAN DIEGO- It’s an early Wednesday morning, and a Sailor wipes a drip of
sweat from his forehead, as he finishes up maintenance on the amphibious
assault ship USS Boxer (LHD 4). His standard issued hard hat helps
protect him from anything that might fall on his head, but it’s not
helping with the heat of the San Diego summer. He works diligently
ensuring that he still has time to go clean the spaces he is responsible
for before he hears every Sailor’s favorite words: liberty call.
The words sound even better when called four and a half hours earlier
than normal.
Capt. Wayne Brown, Boxer’s commanding officer, has made a deal with his
crew. If the crew is caught up on all work, maintenance, and keeps the
ship’s cleanliness up to standards, then on Wednesday he will allow the
crew to enjoy a half day to take care of personal business.
Brown brings an old Navy tradition, originally known as Rope Yarn
Sunday, to Boxer.
“Rope Yarn is a tradition that the Navy has where the commanding officer
can give time off,” said Senior Chief Navy Counselor Mark Rush, from
Louisville, Ky. “It started during the times when Navy ships used sails.
The Sailors would break out rope yarn to mend their clothes and
hammocks.”
Sailors would get the yarn they had to make ropes while underway. Short
on resources, they used it as thread to mend clothes and hammocks, added
Rush.
The tradition was a break from usual chores at sea, and was nicknamed
“Rope Yarn Sunday.” After sailing ships were no longer used by the Navy,
Rope Yarn Wednesday became free afternoons Sailors would use to attend
to personal errands.
“I didn’t even know what Rope Yarn was until the Captain announced it,”
said Operations Specialist Seaman Dino Rodriguez, from Fresno, Calif. “I
was glad to find out we were getting off work early because it meant
more time to get everything done so I’ll have more free time on the
weekends to play with my son and help out my wife.”
Boxer Sailors must continue to work hard and keep up expectations in
order to continue to enjoy this privilege.
“I would advise the crew to make sure their work is done and spaces are
clean,” said Rush. “The ship’s cleanliness is a big thing. If the
commanding officer knows that our ship is clean and squared away, it
will be more likely that we can continue to enjoy Rope Yarn.”

USS Boxer takes it to the Beach

11 Aug

By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Mayra A. Knight

From USS Boxer (LHD 4) Public Affairs

SAN DIEGO, Ca. – Sailors assigned to the amphibious assault ship USS Boxer (LHD 4) and their families enjoyed a day in the sun during a command picnic that took place at Breakers Beach on Naval Air Station North Island in Coronado, Calif., July 18.

“I got to take my boots off for the afternoon, lay out in the sand for a while, and relax,” said Aviation Boatswain’s Mate (Handling) Airman Kevin Bartold.

Boxer returned from an eight-month deployment in April, and moved into a planned maintenance availability in July. The picnic was a way for Sailors to enjoy some time off with their families and fellow shipmates.

“Nothing gives me more pleasure than to be able to spend a little time away from the ‘office’, that is the ship, to relax with my crew and to meet their families,” said Capt. Wayne R. Brown, Boxer’s Commanding Officer

Sailors made their way to the beach in the morning to help set up tents and games.

“We had a lot of support from the MWR (Morale Welfare and Recreation) crew and the First Class Petty Officer association,” said Ship’s Serviceman 1st Class Edward Carr. “It was a good turnout.”

Hot dogs, burgers, and an assortment of picnic foods were catered for the event and gave the opportunity for every Sailor to have time to sit back and enjoy the beach.

“All the profits that we make throughout the year from various sales go back into throwing events like this and allows things like catering,” said Carr.

Activities were available for everyone to participate in, including volleyball in the sand, paddle boarding, face painting, and inflatable slides.

“I participated in a game of volleyball against deck department, although I think they cheated,” said Carr.

Volleyballs and footballs were flying through the air. Hungry families dug into the food. Sailors took advantage of the rare opportunity to play and laugh with their children on a weekday afternoon.

“The picnic went very well,” said Afloat Recreation Specialist Brian Rockenbach. “Seeing people relaxing, was mission accomplished for me.”

“I was glad that I got to go to the picnic. It gets the morale going and getting everyone together contributes to unity in a command. I am glad we are able to do functions like this,” Bartold said.

Boxer is in a planned maintenance availability period (PMA) at its homeport of Naval Base San Diego. For more news from USS Boxer (LHD 4), visit www.navy.mil/local/lhd4/.

Drinking on the Job: The Importance of H2O

29 Jul

Story by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Veronica Mammina
USS BOXER (LHD 4) NNS – July brings in new uniform trends for Sailors aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Boxer (LHD 4), undergoing a major maintenance period. The Navy’s latest blue sun-blocking hardhat along with a brand new pair of safety glasses, issued to protect one’s delicate eyes from any stray object, send the message that work is about to get done. In addition, sweat and tears from a scorching San Diego sun pool under the hardhats and uniforms of these Boxer Sailors. Water is limited aboard the ship, so every Sailor sports a water bottle.
Summer is here and as temperatures continue to rise in San Diego, so does the need to stay hydrated-especially aboard Boxer. Boxer is currently undergoing an overhaul of various systems and equipment as part of a Planned Maintenance Availability (PMA) period, which is slated to last for the next several months.
Due to Boxer’s PMA period, some air conditioning units and water supply tanks are among the many systems that may be temporarily shut down aboard the ship.
“Drinking water isn’t that easy anymore due to the ships maintenance period,” said Neil Roberts, Boxer’s afloat fitness specialist.
Dehydration occurs when your body is losing fluids quicker than they are being replenished, according to Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class Christopher Woodhouse.
“When you sweat, it’s not just water, but other nutrients and electrolytes that your body uses to perform basic functions,” said Woodhouse.
Woodhouse added that energy drinks and coffee won’t kill you but will not keep you hydrated.
Just like a car needs a certain amount of gas to run, our bodies require a certain amount of water to achieve maximum performance daily.
There are signs of dehydration Sailors can look for in someone who might be dehydrated.
“Common signs of dehydration you might see in Sailors on Boxer include dry mouth, increased thirst and general weakness or dizziness,” said Woodhouse. “These can generally be remedied by sipping water in a cool, dry place.”
Dehydration becomes dangerous when a shipmate exhibits an altered mental status, confusion, or stops sweating. Anyone showing signs needs advanced medical attention immediately.
“We should make it a conscious effort to drink at least one ounce of water per pound of body weight per day,” said Roberts.
Woodhouse suggests one or two liters of water during a normal work day and then one or two more by the time you go to bed and repeat.
If drinking water isn’t your thing, you can supplement it.
“Eating fruits and vegetables are really helpful to staying hydrated as well,” said Roberts.
Roberts added that certain fruits and vegetables contain have very high water content.
Heat related injuries are common, and the number one weather related killer in the United States in 2011, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The United States had 400 heat fatalities that year.
For more information on hydration, please visit: http://www.navyfitness.org/_uploads/docs/Navy%20Sports_Hydration.pdf?nc=2068238002