President Obama Calls Corpsman on USS Rentz
USS RENTZ, At sea (NNS) -- President Barack Obama placed a phone call to the independent duty corpsman on the deployed guided-missile frigate USS Rentz (FFG 46) to pass a personal holiday greeting Dec. 24.
Hospital Corpsman 1st Class (SW/AW) Francis M. Nicola received the call from the Commander in Chief while Rentz conducts maritime security operations in the 5th Fleet area of responsibility.
"It was a great honor," said Nicola. "The president passed his personal thanks to me and to the crew for our service over the holidays."
Obama made the phone call based on a submission by Nicola's chain of command highlighting the Sailor's superior performance as well as his dedication to Rentz and his local community.
"The president started the conversation off asking about my wife and my son Anthony," said Nicola. "He then went on to express his thoughts on being deployed away from them during the holiday period and hoped for my safe return to them in the coming months."
Nicola has served on Rentz for one year, and was previously assigned to the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN 68). Nicola stands officer of the deck underway, a watch station most often stood by officers.
"Petty Officer Nicola's performance has been nothing short of flawless," said Rentz' Commanding Officer, Cmdr. Jeff Miller. "He quickly earned my trust, my confidence and now stands the ship's most senior watch."
The president also recognized Nicola's profound impact to the crew of Rentz and expressed his gratitude and pride to have Nicola serving in the military.
"I thanked the president for all of his kind words and wished him and his family a blessed holiday season," said Nicola. "I also invited the president for a day of burgers and basketball on the pier in San Diego."
"The president said, 'He would try to take us up on that offer,'" added Nicola.
As an independent duty corpsman, Nicola is the senior medical representative for more than 220 crew members. His duties range from routine patient care to trauma response.
Rentz is on an extended 8-month deployment.
Nimitz Carrier Strike Group (CSG), commanded by Rear Adm. John W. Miller, is comprised of USS Nimitz, embarked Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 11, embarked Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 23, and the Ticonderoga-class cruiser USS Chosin. Ships assigned to DESRON 23 include the destroyers USS Pinckney, USS Sampson and the frigate USS Rentz.
Squadrons from CVW 11 include Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 41, VFA 14, the VFA 97, VFA 86, Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron 6, Electronic Attack Squadron 135, Fleet Logistics Support Squadron 30 and Carrier Airborne Command and Control Squadron 117.
Helicopter detachments include Helicopter Anti-submarine Squadron Light (HSL) 37, HSL 43, HSL 45, HSL 49 and Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 23. Also accompanying the Nimitz CSG are Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit 11 and the USNS Bridge.