MCPON Holiday Message: Stay ready for the fight, be vigilant and take care of each other

MEDITERRANEAN SEA (Sept. 25, 2018) A Sailor watches the sun set from aboard the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Carney (DDG 64. Carney, forward-deployed to Rota, Spain, was on its fifth patrol in the U.S. 6th Fleet area of operations in support of regional allies and partners as well as U.S. national security interests in Europe and Africa. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Ryan U. Kledzik/Released)Our Navy team needs to remain vigilant and strong throughout this holiday period. Take care of each other and keep an eye on one another. As we progress through the holidays, lean on friends and shipmates; if needed, don’t be afraid to turn to (or urge a friend to do so) our more robust professional services – as I and other senior leaders have done in our careers – to find the help you need to get you through those moments that might seem insurmountable.


VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (Sept. 18, 2018) Chief Machinist’s Mate Franklin Pollydore, from Georgetown, Guyana, assigned to USS Gerald R. Ford’s (CVN 78) engineering department, hugs his sponsor during a pinning ceremony held at the Sandler Center for the Performing Arts. Thirty-six Ford Sailors were advanced to the rank of chief petty officer. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Cat Campbell/Released)In talking with another Chief a long time ago, a phrase I used stuck with me: “the mountain that stands tallest is the one that stands before each of us.” It’s easy to dismiss our issues, or not seek help because we think others have it worse or think no one will understand, but it’s all about perspective. The challenges you face can be as serious and as overwhelming as you perceive them to be. A Marine I once worked for, Brig. Gen. Liszewski used to say “it’s ok not to be “ok,” but it’s not ok not to ask for help.” We are a team, and as a team we must help each other.

While we all need to find the time to take a knee and catch our breath, as a team we cannot relent in our pursuit of readiness, we must not loosen our grip – our sense of urgency – in preparing for the fight.

From the very birth of our American nation, we’ve understood the vulnerability and corresponding advantage of a time of anticipated relaxation. Washington’s daring maneuver to cross the Delaware River on Christmas night and attack Hessian forces in Trenton pressed an advantage presented by an enemy who was not expecting a fight.

"Washington Crossing the Delaware" by Emanuel Leutze, 1851 (Image courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art)
Image courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art


ATLANTIC OCEAN (Sept. 13, 2017) Sailors assigned to the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Mitscher (DDG 57) watch the USS Winston S. Churchill (DDG 81) approach the Lewis and Clark-class dry cargo and ammunition ship USNS Medgar Evers (T-AKE 13) for a replenishment-at-sea. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Casey J. Hopkins/Released)Our Sailors must be prepared to “fight tonight,” even if that night falls when we least expect it or want it to – for those on watch around the globe, our hearts are with you. For those of us who stand behind you, we will continue to provide the support you need; as the CNO delineates in the Design 2.0, those not in the fight will be ready to “rearm, resupply and repair our operational forces” – we will be where and when you need us to be in forceful backup.

Have a happy and safe holiday season.
MCPON Russell Smith


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