April 2010


A plebe just informed me that I have 31 days until graduation…not that I haven’t been counting on my own.

It’s amazing how fast time flies. A 2008 graduate who selected SEALs and who was most responsible for my plebe training and indoctrination is coming back in this weekend to have lunch with all the plebes (now firsties [seniors]) who used to be under his charge. Another 2008 graduate from my company just returned from Afghanistan. I know plenty of recent graduates who went SWO who have done deployments. Soon the Class of 2010 and I will be joining them.

I’ll be graduating May 28 and will be reporting to Nuclear Power School in late July, but it’ll be awhile until I’ll get to a boat (tentatively late 2011). Feel free to share good ensign (or O-1 forthe other services) “moments” in the comments…standing by for anchors away, here!

Posted by Jeffrey Withington in Navy, Training & Education

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  • Charley

    A friend of mine who graduated in 2008 just finished Primary, like last week.

  • Andy (JADAA)

    The place: An un-named Naval Air Station on the West Coast
    The time: Towards the end of the Vietnam War
    Our intrepid, fresh-faced Ensign, commissioned for a few brief weeks, is checking into his new command. Around the corner comes an ancient (to the Ensign) CDR, combat ribbons multiple rows deep, weathered wings to match his face. He stops abruptly, stares at the Ensign in a quizzical manner, then reaches out and rubs his left Ensign bar between his thumb and forefinger.

    “Hmmm,” he rumbles. “I haven’t seen one of you since, hmmm, ’67, ’68?” He chuckles and rolls on down the passageway.

    I forgot to pay that forward. 🙂

    Good luck and congratulations,


  • Steph

    I was in the NOB BOQ for a school prior to going to my first duty station. A LCDR referred to me as a “butter bar”.

    He was not terribly amused when I asked if that made him a “butter leaf”.

    Good luck at nuc school.

  • BJ Armstrong

    J, congrats. It’s an amazing feeling, though each year as another class graduates I feel older and older. You’ll do great, keep thinking and writing. I threw you a footnote, but your blog post on sleep policy gave me the push I needed to finish my Proceedings article “Are We Driving the Ship Drunk?” that was in the FEB issue. Thanks, and again congrats…

  • Jay

    Enjoy Charleston (what little time you will have there for liberty…).

    If you get to Ballston Spa — get up to Canada! Waaaaaaay too much fun!

    Study hard, keep quiet on your boat for the first year, qualify as early as you can. You’ll do well. BZ

  • Mr. K

    Your post about your mentor caught my eye. Take a look at http://www.neptunuslex.com “Do the Right Thing”.and the links.(27 Apr) Then take the advice of SOCS Tommy V: “At what level are you willing to participate? All In, All the Time”. Good luck at School. V/R Mr. K.

  • P.M. Leenhouts CAPT USN (Ret)

    Robert W. Moinester was not an Ensign, but a young LTJG, not so far removed from his butter bar days, when he was called upon to lead in combat. The USS MOINESTER FF-1097 was named in honor of his heroism. From the awards citation:

    “On the morning of 31 January 1968, while serving as Officer in Charge of the Hue Ramp Detachment, LTJG Moinester and his ramp personnel were enroute to their assigned work areas in Hue. Unaware that the city had been infiltrated by a large number of North Vietnamese Army units during the night, the column continued toward Hue and suddenly came under hostile mortar fire. LTJG Moinester Organized his men into an infantry platoon composed of United States Navy, Marines Corps and Army personnel and led them in house-to-house clearing operations under intense hostile fire. Observing enemy soldiers in a building to his front, he organized a frontal attack. Although LTjg Moinester was killed during the attack; the enemy was driven from their rein­forced positions and sustained heavy casualties. In addition to the Silver Star, LTJG Moinester was posthumously awarded the National Order of Vietnam and Gallantry Cross with Palm from the Republic of Vietnam. His citation reads in part: “with a ready zeal and a commendable response, he fought On to the enemy in every mission and set a brilliant example for his fellow soldiers. He died in the performance of duty. Behind him he leaves the abiding grief of his former comrades-in-arms, Vietnamese as well as American.”

    Be ready – you will be called upon.

  • RADM (Ret) Ben Wachendorf


    Remember how much it meant to you to have your 2008 SEAL come back to have lunch with you. Your circumstances may not allow that two years from now, but stay in touch with your Plebes. It will mean a lot to them.

    In Charleston, when they talk about the “recent unpleasantness”, they are referring to the Civil War. Kiawah (to the south of the city) has the best beaches, but Myrtle Beach (to the north) has more night life.

    Jay has good advice above. Work hard, but take some time off to decompress during nuke school. When you get to your boat, get qualified as fast as you can to get on the watchbill and help out your shipmates. Some of the best advice and knowledge you get will come from junior enlisted with whom you did not have much contact at Boat School. Treat them with respect, and they will do the same to you.

    You have a great future in front of you. I envy you.

  • YNSN

    Almost Sir,

    Bravo Zulu.

  • Old Air Force Sarge

    As they say in the Luftwaffe, “Hals und Bein bruch!” God bless you Sir, enjoy Charleston, it’s tough but rewarding (my oldest daughter went through there and Ballston Spa, or “Snowville” as I call it.) If my Nuke SWO daughter were here (and not deployed on the Ike), she’d tell you to get qual’ed as quick as you can. Speaking as a retired Master Sergeant: “Take care of your people and they’ll take care of you”. Fair winds and following seas and thank you for doing what you do.

  • jwithington

    Thanks for all the words of advice and encouragement! That’s a funny story, Steph…I’ll be sure not to say that, just think it ;).

    LCDR Armstrong, I saw that article and really appreciated the citation, sir! One of my instructors recently said “Sleep is a privilege,” half-kidding. We talked after class about the realities of underway life, and he didn’t seem to see many ways around sleep deprivation. I hope the service culture overtime will recognize the importance of getting as much rest as reasonable.

    RADM Wachendorf, thank you for your post, sir. I’ve always enjoyed reconnecting with graduates when they’ve come back for a visit and I’ll be sure to do that as I am able! We were just talking today in our “Submarine Officer” class about the importance of getting qualified rapidly so you can take some of the burden off your fellow JOs. I’ll be sure to check out the beaches in Charleston!

  • Claudio

    A lot of good stuff already covered, just wanted to reiterate some

    Always take care of your sailors and respect them. Teach them and learn from them.

    Every once in a while, consider your DH’s/Skippers point of view, especially on matters you dislike. Eventually, if lucky and good, you’ll get there, never to early to learn their perspective.

    Flower wherever planted. Do your best, always

    Don’t sweat the small stuff, or stuff you have no control over. Most everything is small stuff in the big scheme of life.

    No matter how bad or crappy you think you have it or sorry you may feel for yourself, remember the small stuff rule, and also that there are thousands others who’d love to swap places. (Arlington)

    And last but not least, HAVE FUN. Travel away from the “hotspots” in portcalls. Life’s too short to not have fun and enjoy what you’re doing. If you’re not having fun, time for a new endeavor.

    Good luck and congratulations again.

  • Cody Little

    I’ll see you in Charleston, then. Class 1101 here, starting end of September.

  • Byron

    One thing I haven’t heard: Listen to the Chief. He can make or break you, especially as a new ensign. Even if you make it to command, listen to the Goat Locker.