Two hundred and seventy-four midshipmen selected the surface ships they will serve on after graduation at the U.S. Naval Academy's “Ship Selection” night, Feb. 23.
Vice Adm. Terry Etnyre, commander, Naval Surface Forces, welcomed them to the surface warfare community and said, “This is an important moment in your careers. There are no bad selections on the board because you will be out doing the nation’s bidding and taking your ship to sea and responding to the mission given.”
Each midshipman who was assigned surface warfare as their career path awaited their turn in Memorial Hall to pick placards with ship names off large boards categorized by homeport. Each selecting midshipman’s name, ship and homeport were announced to the midshipmen, officers, friends and family present. Etnyre, Naval Academy Superintendent Vice Adm. Rodney Rempt, and several other flag officers welcomed the midshipmen and offered private words of wisdom after each selection.
The first midshipman to select was Midshipman 1st Class Paul Angelo from Columbia Station, Ohio, a political science major and rhodes scholar, who selected PCU Kidd (DDG 100) and will report in summer 2008 after completing his studies at Oxford. Angelo said that his academic background should serve him well when he reports aboard.
“One of the challenges of being a leader on a ship is to deal with a diverse group of people," said Angelo. "The diversity of being at Oxford, the opportunity to travel to different countries and observe their cultures will only enhance my ability to communicate more effectively with my subordinates.”
Homeport selection was considered by many midshipmen to be more important to them than ship type. The first homeport to have all available ships selected from the board was Mayport, Fla., followed by Yokosuka, Japan; Pearl Harbor; San Diego; and Everett, Wash.
Available pre-commissioning units went quickly but some midshipmen had their hearts set on other platforms. Midshipman 1st Class Kendra Deptula, a computer science major from Phoenix, chose USS Tarawa
(LHA 1) in San Diego.
"I really like big deck amphibs and decided that’s what I wanted after serving on them during my midshipman cruises,” said Deptula.
Having seen expeditionary strike groups featuring ships like Tarawa provide humanitarian relief around the world after recent tsunamis, hurricanes and earthquakes, in addition to fighting the global war on terrorism, Deptula said, “I’m ready to get out there and start doing my job.”
Midshipman 1st Class Richard Ilczuk celebrated selecting USS Porter
(DDG 78) with his former commanding officer, Capt. Kathy Shanebrook, who also served as his skipper when he was an aerographer's mate 3rd class at the meteorology and oceanography center in Yokosuka, Japan.
“I recommended him for the Naval Academy in December 2000 and when I reported to the Naval Academy in July 2005 as division director of math and science, he looked me up. It’s wonderful that he has progressed so far,” said Shanebrook.
“It’s a dream come true to serve on a DDG after serving on aircraft carriers when I was enlisted. Being a former blueshirt, I understand what they go through and I think it will make me a good officer and the enlisted can teach me a lot of things along the way,” said Ilczuk, an oceanography major from Philadelphia.
Midshipman 1st Class Marco Nelson, from Scottsdale, Ariz., an economics major who was a starting slotback on Navy’s football team that won the Poinsettia Bowl, said, “Now it’s real, picking a ship where we’re going to spend the next few years. It’s exciting and I’m going in headfirst to apply what I learned here. Football was a big focus here and now I will focus my energy into my job with the same teamwork approach.” Nelson selected USS Gunston Hall (LSD 44), homeported in Little Creek, Va.
By Cmdr. Joe Navratil, Commander, Naval Surface Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet Public Affairs