USS BONHOMME RICHARD, At Sea - A U.S. Naval Academy (USNA) midshipman is learning about life at sea aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6) from one of the ship's officers – her older sister.
USNA Midshipman Aimee E. Brenner, native of Charlotte, N.C., is participating in "summer training" aboard Bonhomme Richard, which is taking part in the biennial Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) 2010 exercise.
After completing her first year at USNA, she requested and was granted placement for her "summer training" the same ship as her older sister, Ensign Amanda N. Brenner, who was the first of three siblings to attend the Academy (the Brenner sisters have a middle brother, Ryan, who will begin his senior year at USNA this fall).
"We have always had so much in common, I have always looked up to her," midshipman Brenner said of her sister. "My sister seemed to enjoy her four years at the academy, so I thought it would be the right move for me as well."
Ensign Brenner, a surface warfare officer, graduated in 2009 from USNA and assigned to Bonhomme Richard as her first duty station. She decided to pursue a career as a naval officer because she wanted to do something different from her peers after high school and was intrigued by the idea of military medicine.
"While I did not obtain a 'slot' out of the academy to go to Medical Corps, I still intend to make that the end result," Ensign Brenner said.
Midshipman Brenner said she too, was interested in doing something different from the norm after graduation, and said prospects of job security as well as service to country were strong motivators for her decision.
"I think they (siblings) learn from my experiences," Ensign Brenner said. "I think they learned from my mistakes so their experiences have been better. But, we each carve our own path within the military."
"Summer training" is a program set up for the midshipmen at USNA to experience life on a ship as an enlisted person. Midshipmen are paired and shadow an enlisted person, called a "running mate" during their training, learning all aspects of shipboard life. The program is designed to help the midshipmen gain understanding of what the living and work environments are like for the people they will lead after becoming commissioned officers.
"You need to know what you are telling your people to do, because you have to be willing to do it yourself," said Ensign Brenner, "So this is that experience where you learn what types of things people are tasked to do and the difficulty of the task."
Midshipman Brenner said since being on board she has worked in the ship's laundry, provided food services in the ship's bake shop and observed her older sister's duties as the officer of the deck.
"This is my first time being on a ship this big. It has been really interesting seeing the everyday life of a surface warfare officer, and [seeing] what life is like for my sister especially," said Midshipman Brenner.
Ensign Brenner said when she was a midshipman she also came to Bonhomme Richard during one of her summer trainings. Because they had such as great program when she attended, she felt inspired to organize and plan events for the midshipmen for this year's summer training program.
Midshipman Brenner said that she may pursue a career path in the aviation. However, she has plenty of time to decide as she will submit her preferences every year until her senior year when she is assigned to a particular field.
"In the evenings we are able to get together and she asks me questions I am able to answers from an officer's perspective," said Ensign Brenner. "This has been the most time we have been able to spend together since I was at the academy. It has been really nice having her around."
For more news from USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6), visit www.navy.mil/local/lhd6/.