USS Gary
Decommissioned July 23, 2015
CDR James M. “Slim” Pickens
Executive Officer (October 2011 - January 2013)

CDR Pickens is a native of St. Louis, Missouri. He enlisted in the Navy in 1988 and served as a Cryptologic Technician Maintenance. He deployed on USS LEFTWICH (DDG-984) from Naval Security Group, Subic Bay, Philippines for the 1991 Gulf War. He was later accepted for the Enlisted Educational Advancement Program (EEAP) followed by the Enlisted Commissioning Program (ECP) and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice from Old Dominion University in Norfolk, VA where he received his commission in 1997.

During his first tours of duty as a junior officer he served as part of the Forward Deployed Naval Forces (FDNF) in Yokosuka, Japan aboard USS VANDEGRIFT (FFG-48), where he served as Ordnance Officer, Anti-Submarine Warfare Officer and Electrical Officer. In May 2001, he reported to USS KITTY HAWK (CV-63), serving as First Division Officer and deploying for Operation Enduring Freedom. In May 2005, CDR Pickens reported as the Engineering Officer to MHC Rotational Crew Excel in USS PELICAN (MHC-53) and USS BLACKHAWK (MHC-58) in Ingleside, TX. In February 2007, he returned to the FDNF and served as the N7 Officer for Training and Readiness for Commander Destroyer Squadron Fifteen.

His tours ashore include Afloat Training Group Western Pacific in Yokosuka, Japan as a Training Liaison Officer. He participated in the SWO 18/12 program and graduated with a Master’s degree in Human Relations from the University of Oklahoma. He completed his Joint Professional Military Education and a Master of Arts in National Security and Strategic Studies at the Naval War College in Newport, RI. After graduating, he deployed as an Individual Augmentee for Operation Iraqi Freedom. He was assigned to the United States Embassy Baghdad as the Deputy Chief of Campaign Plans for United States Forces Iraq J5 Strategy Division and Political Military Liaison Officer to the Government of Iraq’s National Security Council.

CDR Pickens reported to USS GARY in October 2011. His awards include the Defense Meritorious Service Medal; Meritorious Service Medal; Navy Commendation Medal (2 stars); Navy Achievement Medal (1 star) and various unit and service awards. 



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