I am honored to be working with the professionals at N87. I
know many of them from previous tours, and after 44 days (as of 4
October) as the Director, Submarine Warfare, I am very impressed
with their performance—across the board. So, as I introduce myself
in this edition of UNDERSEA WARFARE, please know that the
team at N87 is working hard on your behalf. Also, know that those
of us here in the Pentagon greatly appreciate your hard work in the
fleet and in fleet support.
This edition focuses on our enlisted undersea warriors. Some of
you may know that the man I admire most was a sergeant in the
Army. My Dad, L.V. Bruner, was in the 101st Airborne Division
during World War II. If you had the opportunity to see "Band of
Brothers," you would have seen the men he served with. That movie
was focused on Easy Company, and my Dad was in Company D.
I grew up listening to stories of some of the battles he fought in
during that war—and I always wanted to be like him. But, for a
myriad of different reasons, I ended up being a nuclear-trained
ensign—and submariner (heck of a long way from being an enlisted
My first LPO was MMC Jim Ryan. I was the MPA and CRA on
USS Pollack (SSN 603), and I would not have survived my first tour
without his guidance and mentorship. We became good friends. To
this day, when confronted with tough leadership decisions, I often
think of Jim and what he would do in the same circumstance. After
Pollack, I served with many great enlisted men, men like QMCM
Eddie VanMeter (then QMSN!), CDR Terry Chauncey (then
YNC), MMCM Bill Steele, CSCS Ed Allen and QMCM Chris
Shannon, just to name a few. Each of these great Americans directly
contributed to the success of their shipmates and was responsible
for the successful defense of our Nation and its way of life. I have
infinite respect for each of these men. They made the operations
of our submarines successful through their actions. They passed
on the lessons that will make our Force successful in the future.
As submariners, we operate complex machinery in a very demanding
and routinely unforgiving environment. We are often tasked to
do what many would consider to be the "undoable." Our enlisted
professionals allow us to get underway on time, train for and put
ordnance on target, reload and prepare for the next event — or
battle. They are at the very heart of what our submarine program is
all about, and they are the best there is — period. It was no surprise
when one of our own — Master Chief Rick West — was selected to
be the current Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy. Today, he
represents all Sailors, all warfare communities and every rate — but
he grew up in the demanding world of submarine warfare, and I
can't help but think that his experiences there helped groom him
into the superb leader he is today.
Lastly, our Sailors are not the only important part of the Force.
Their families and the support they provide are just as critical to
our success. They sacrifice continually so that their loved ones can
serve — and we must never tire of thanking them for that sacrifice.
I visited USS Alexandria (SSN 757) last week. The picture above
shows the Chief of the Boat (MMCS James Mersereau), the CO
(CDR Todd Weeks) and me on the pier. COB Mersereau and
Captain Weeks, thanks again for showing me your boat—and
congrats on a fantastic crew!