Midshipmen from the Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT) and Northwestern University (NU) Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps (NROTC) units welcomed crew members from the Ohio-class ballistic missile submarine USS Henry M. Jackson (SSBN 730), March 12-13.
Jackson’s Gold Crew Commanding Officer, Cmdr. Edward Robledo, was joined by his chief of the boat (COB), Senior Chief Jeremy Konopka and navigator, Lt. Chris Clevenger, to discuss the submarine force and their current assignment.
Jackson, homeported in Bangor, Wash., has two crews, a Gold Crew and a Blue Crew.
Robledo and his crew addressed the midshipmen during their weekly leadership labs at the NU campus in Evanston, Ill. and IIT campus in Chicago, Ill. They each talked about their experiences in the submarine community and took questions from the midshipmen.
“It’s really great to get to Chicago and talk about my job, as I’m the commanding officer of the greatest warship in the Navy,” said Robledo. “It’s what you make out of the Navy that matters. I enjoy working with young Sailors and officers and I know everybody on my ship.”
“I enjoy the camaraderie of the entire submarine crew,” said Konopka, who serves as the senior enlisted advisor for Jackson. “The submarine community is small and you cross paths a lot with submarine Sailors. On our boat the total crew is around 150 Sailors.”
“I was completely lost when I first stepped on the boat,” said Lt. Clevenger. “Get to know your chiefs, they will help show you the way as a young officer.”
“It is a rare opportunity that a commanding officer, COB, and navigator come and visit and I thought the words of wisdom they gave to the battalion were extremely valuable and motivational to all the midshipmen,” said Midshipman 1st Class Brock Burdyl, an NU senior from Houston, Texas. “I really enjoyed the COB’s insistence on Deck Plate Leadership and trusting everyone around you to get the job done.”
Burdyl, who will attend Nuclear Power School this summer also said, “The visit gave me the impression that the submarine community is top-notch and hearing the phrase ‘every submariner a DC-man’ compared to ‘every Marine a rifleman’ drove home that on a submarine, every single Sailor has a vital job on board. Submariners have to be ready to react at all times in order to survive being under the water and to accomplish the mission.”
Robledo and his crew also took the time to visit a local Navy Junior ROTC unit at Taft High School in Chicago, Ill. Here they spoke to cadets about their experiences in the Navy and options after high school for those that choose to join the military.
Submarine crews visit NROTC units throughout the year to increase midshipmen’s knowledge and interest in the Navy’s submarine program.
The NROTC program, overseen by Rear Adm. Dee L. Mewbourne, commander, Naval Service Training Command (NSTC) at Naval Station Great Lakes, Ill., was established to develop midshipmen mentally, morally and physically and to imbue them with the highest ideals of duty, loyalty and Navy core values in order to commission college graduates as Naval officers who possess a basic professional background, are motivated toward careers in the Naval service and have a potential for future development in mind and character so as to assume the highest responsibilities of command, citizenship and government.
The Navy Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps (NJROTC) and Navy National Defense Cadet Corps (NNDCC) programs seek to instill in participating high school students the values of citizenship, service to the United States, personal responsibility and a sense of accomplishment. The NJROTC and NNDCC programs strive to build a strong foundation of citizenship within America’s future leaders.
Currently NJROTC and NNDCC units are operating at more than 600 high schools around the world with more than 89,000 cadets participating.
Press Release, March 18, 2014; Image: US Navy