Boxer makes one-two-three punch with Battle 'E'
by MC1 Brian P. Biller, USS Boxer Public Affairs
USS BOXER, At Sea (NNS) -- The amphibious assault ship USS Boxer received the 2013 Battle Effectiveness (Battle E) Award for Commander, Amphibious Squadron 1.
The announcement was made via naval message from Commander, Naval Surface Force Pacific, March 20.
In addition to the 2013 award, Boxer also was the recipient in 2011 and 2012.
"I couldn't be more excited or proud of this crew and the hard work they put in for this," said Boxer's Command Master Chief Todd Gruchalla. "There are Sailors aboard Boxer for whom this was their first duty station, and they'll leave here with at least three Battle E awards, to me that speaks volumes."
The Battle "E" recognizes the ship's overall readiness and was determined by inspections and evaluations of accomplishments and milestones throughout the year. Superior performance in mission areas of maritime warfare, engineering/survivability; command, control, communications and information warfare, logistics management, and ship safety are all assessed.
"With much of 2013 spent training for and deploying to the U.S. Fifth Fleet, the crew has worked tirelessly not only to be the best on the waterfront, but to be the best for our nation while operating forward at sea," said USS Boxer Commanding Officer, Capt. John E. Gumbleton. "Every Sailor aboard Boxer had a part in this award and we couldn't have the continuing legacy or this much success on deployment without their pride in the ship."
This year's third Battle E is not the only consecutive award the ship received this year. Boxer also won its third Ship Safety, sixth Engineering/Survivability, 12th Logistics Management and 19th Maritime Warfare Excellence Awards.
"To me this is not something they were awarded or simply given, this is something they've earned," added Gruchalla. "With the hard work and dedication these Sailors have given, they've earned that E on their ribbon bar, each and every one of them."
Boxer is the flagship for the Boxer Amphibious Ready Group and, with the embarked 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit, is deployed in support of maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the U.S. 5th and 7th Fleet Areas of Responsibility.
ARABIAN SEA (Jan. 10, 2014) Sailors from Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 21 re-install a rotor blade on a MH-60S Sea Hawk helicopter aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Boxer (LHD 4). Boxer is the flagship for the Boxer Amphibious Ready Group and, with the embarked 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit (13th MEU), is deployed in support of maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility. U.S. Navy photo by MC3 Mayra A. Knight
ARABIAN GULF (Jan. 14, 2014) Sailors aboard a small boat receive gear lowered from the amphibious assault ship USS Boxer (LHD 4). Boxer is the flagship for the Boxer Amphibious Ready Group and, with the embarked 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit (13th MEU), is deployed in support of maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility. U.S. Navy photo by MC3 J. Michael Schwartz
CNO visits USS Boxer
ARABIAN GULF (Nov. 27, 2013) Chief of Naval Operations, Adm. Jonathan W. Greenert delivers remarks during an all-hands call aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Boxer (LHD 4). Boxer is the flagship for the Boxer Amphibious Ready Group and, with the embarked 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit, is deployed in support of maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility. U.S. Navy photo by MCSN Veronica Mammina
Boxer Sailors combat stress
by MC3 Robert R. Sanchez,
Boxer Amphibious Ready Group Public Affairs
PACIFIC OCEAN (NNS) -- Launched in early June, Operational Stress Control (OSC) training offers deployed Sailors effective tools to help them cope with stress aboard amphibious assault ship USS Boxer (LHD 4).
"The training focuses on individual traits, but more importantly on the unit dynamics [of stress]," said Lt. Cmdr. Reynalda McBee, Boxer OSC coordinator. "Teaching coping mechanisms to anticipated challenges can better prepare Sailors [to deal with stress]."
Boxer is paving the way when it comes to giving the OSC training on board a ship. Adopting a proactive strategy toward mental health and overall wellness involves educating the crew on steps they can take to decrease deployment stress and make the time at sea meaningful and productive.
"The USS Boxer is the first ship to roll out the OSC program," said Lt. George Loeffler, psychiatrist aboard Boxer. "Not only is the USS Boxer setting the standard, it is charting a course for how operational stress will be understood, prevented and treated. It is an honor to be a part of this [program]."
The main goal of OSC is to reduce mental health issues related to stress by educating Sailors to use resiliency, recognize when they are being affected by stress, and eliminate the stigma associated with getting help.
Boxer is taking the approach of training senior leadership first, so they know what signs to look for and how to deal with them. Several chiefs have already taught the OSC training to the junior Sailors.
"Deployed Sailors are under a tremendous amount of stress," said Loeffler. "Whether it's working in the mess decks, working down in engineering, or up on the flight deck, the demands of the mission can be enormous. And just because we're deployed doesn't mean life stops. Things happen in our personal lives, things happen back home."
Deployments can bring family separation, long work hours and many uncertainties; for a first-time Sailor this may be a lot to deal with.
OSC challenges Sailors to get involved when they see signs that a shipmate is having problems with stress.
"Getting appropriate help early through their peers and chain of command is critical for prevention and mitigating most of the problems," added McBee. "Complex cases will be referred to chaplains and medical, however, we expect those to be far fewer with this training."
Sailors also learn to detect stress at an early stage and to prevent it from becoming a serious issue by using positivism, behavior control, flexible thinking, resiliency and exercise as a stress reducer.
"It was good to know that ways to reduce stress were things I like doing," said Airman Brody Verona. "Exercising and reading are two things that I enjoy and if it helps reduce stress, that's even better."
Ultimately, OSC strives to improve the overall welfare of all Sailors.
"Everyone needs to learn how to adapt and cope with stress because stress is part of our lives," said McBee. "This is a basic life skill requirement to succeed, not just in the Navy but in life in general. Stress is not the enemy; growth and character are developed through stressful situations. Adaptive coping skills are needed to preserve the confidence and self-esteem of Sailors and thus making them more resilient in the face of challenges."
The training aboard Boxer will continue with additional classes in the middle and at the end of deployment. After deployment, a detailed assessment of the program will gauge its effectiveness and use on other ships throughout the Navy.
PACIFIC OCEAN (Aug. 28, 2013) Professor Tristan James Mabry Ph.D., Department of National Security Affairs at the Naval Postgraduate School, lectures about China's military modernization aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Boxer (LHD 4). Boxer is underway for a regularly scheduled deployment as part of the Boxer Amphibious Ready Group (BOXARG). U.S. Navy photo by MC3 Joe Bishop
Professors school USS Boxer on regional security
by MC3 Joe Bishop, Boxer Amphibious Ready Group Public Affairs
USS BOXER, At Sea (NNS) -- A small team of professors from Naval Postgraduate School in Monterrey, Calif. came aboard the deployed amphibious assault ship USS Boxer (LHD 4) to train the crew with their Regional Security Education Program (RSEP) from Aug. 25th to Aug. 29th.
After the October 2000 USS Cole attack, the former Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Vern Clark initiated the program to educate Sailors on pertinent cultural facts and social structures that they may encounter during deployment. Sailors receive graduate-level lectures from subject-matter experts on regional conflicts occurring within Boxer's area of operation.
The program was established to help educate ship leaders so they are better prepared to confront multiple security challenges while at sea.
"There was a DoD [Department of Defense] investigation that looked into some of the factors that went into al-Qaida's successful attack against USS Cole," said Navy Postgraduate School Professor Mark Huber. "RSEP was brought to life in the aftermath of the attack."
The visiting professors spent five days presenting lectures to dozens of Sailors and Marines.
"The primary audience is the senior leadership, the strike group admiral, the commodore for the ARG [Amphibious Ready Group], and his or her staff, generally E-7 and above," said Huber, a retired Navy helicopter pilot. "But because we also have regional experts onboard, they are able to provide cultural awareness to all hands."
The enlisted personnel who were present during the lectures appreciated the opportunity to learn about cultures and people they may come into contact with during deployment.
"I was really excited to find out professors from the Naval Postgraduate School were coming onboard to give Marines and Sailors presentations about different countries in the region we'll be near during deployment," said Sgt. Jennifer Pirante, a combat correspondent assigned to the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit. "These lectures helped improve my cultural awareness, not just about our current relationship to other countries, but the current situation in those countries."
Mr. Huber believes Sailors are highly competent in their respective rates and areas of specialty, but these competencies alone are not always sufficient. There is a need to supplement Sailors' knowledge with information about the people they will be dealing with and the places they will be working in.
"The primary goal is to enable better-informed decision-making," said Huber. "Not everyone brings regional expertise to his or her job. Here on this ship you have to have a lot of other competencies and skill sets; but we need to marry that up with some foundational regional knowledge in order to make good decisions in context."
The professors with RSEP aim to instill cultural awareness needed to preserve good relations with longtime friendly regions, as well as provide a basic foundation for Sailors to be educated, international travelers.
"Our international partners matter, and to have a strong relationship with our partners we need this Amphibious Ready Group to arrive on scene with an understanding of what those challenges are, and to be well informed," said Huber.
Boxer celebrates Hospital Corpsman 114th birthday
by MC3(AW) Maebel Ysog Tinoko, USS Boxer Public Affairs
SAN DIEGO (NNS) -- Sailors from amphibious assault ship USS Boxer (LHD 4) gathered in the ship's medical triage to celebrate the 114th Hospital Corpsman birthday, June 15.
San Diego Training Support Center Command Master Chief (FMF/SW) Kelvin E. Carter was the guest speaker for the event and shared the history of the Hospital Corpsman rate during his speech.
"Prior to the establishment of the Hospital Corps, enlisted medical support in the Navy was limited in scope," he said. "Still, there existed pressure to reform the enlisted component of the Navy's medical department. Medicine as a science was advancing rapidly, foreign navies had begun training medically skilled Sailors, and even the U.S. Army had established an enlisted Hospital Corps in 1887. Navy Surgeon General J.R. Tyron and subordinate physicians lobbied the Navy administration to take action. With the Spanish-American War looming, Congress passed a bill authorizing establishment of the U.S. Navy Hospital Corps, signed into law by President William McKinley June 17, 1898," said Carter.
"Today, hospital corpsmen are serving in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars providing corpsmen for convoys, patrols, and hospital or clinic treatment," he said.
During the celebration, Hospital Corpsman 1st Class (SW/AW) Joy Dedious led the medical department with reciting the Corpsman creed.
Following the formal ceremony, a cake-cutting was held which included Carter with the youngest and oldest Hospital Corpsman from the Boxer medical staff.
For Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class (SW/AW) Lakesha Aldaco this celebration honors the Corpsmen who made the rate what it is today.
"This is a way to pay our homage to those who sacrificed so much to save others," said Aldaco. "It's important to reflect on where we started and learn how we got here today."
Boxer Commanding Officer Capt. Kevin Flanagan thanked the medical department for its hard work and dedication.
"All of you do a tremendous job of taking care of our Marines and Sailors. I am proud to serve with each and every one of you," said Flanagan. "From the day I met this department, I've never seen a more productive group of Sailors. Congratulations and happy birthday."