Lt. Nathan Schnaible explains how aircraft are moved around the flight deck to members of the joint civilian orientation course. 

120724-N-JO908-102 SAN DIEGO - Lt. Nathan Schnaible, assigned to the amphibious assault ship USS Makin Island's (LHD 8) air department, explains how aircraft are moved around the flight deck to members of the joint civilian orientation course. A group of 38 course participants, along with their escorts, visited Makin Island as part of the program's Navy Day. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Kory Alsberry/Released)
Joint Civilian Orientation Conference Participants Visit USS Makin Island 
By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Kory D. Alsberry, USS Makin Island Public Affairs  
USS MAKIN ISLAND, At sea - A group of 38 civilian leaders in education, business, industry and local governments from across the country visited the amphibious assault ship USS Makin Island (LHD 8) as part of the Department of Defense (DoD) Joint Civilian Orientation Conference (JCOC).

The purpose of the JCOC program is to increase public understanding of national defense through a forum of free exchange among influential citizens, DoD officials, and military leadership.

Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public and Community Outreach Rene C. Bardoff led the JCOC guests aboard Makin Island at Naval Base San Diego as the ship was getting underway for operations off the Southern California coast.

While aboard, the JCOC participants and their military escorts toured the ship, received special briefings on the ship's capabilities and enjoyed lunch with the crew.

"I was really excited to see the helicopters," said Stephen Cousins, a JCOC participant who serves as the superintendant of the Traverse City area schools in Michigan. "You get to see so many cool pieces of technology. I was really excited to see different aspects of people's jobs, and how they seemed so excited about their work."

During the tour Cousins said that everyone seemed happy and energetic while performing their duties.

"Everybody was on the same page when it came down to performing their duties," said Cousins. "It was amazing to see, with so many Sailors on board. They're doing something right."

Once the ship reached its operating area, guests were able to observe flight operations before they departed the ship via helicopter for their transit back to San Diego, and eventually other military installations around the country.

"We don't get to see things like this every day," said Dr. Florence Clark, a JCOC participant who works as a professor and associate dean at the University of Southern California. "We get to see up close people doing something great with their lives, these men and women sacrificing everything for our freedom, and I'm just really grateful and appreciative. "

Sailors who served as tour guides and subject matter experts for the ship's equipment and systems said they enjoyed the opportunity to interact with the JCOC guests.

"I was extremely fortunate to get the opportunity to explain some of the things we have to do every day," said Damage Controlman 2nd Class Reginald Marzett. "Civilians don't get a chance to see what we do, except for what they see on television and what they read, and I'm happy I got to give them a new outlook on what the Navy really does."

The JCOC is a program sponsored by the Secretary of Defense for civilian public opinion leaders interested in growing their knowledge of the military and national defense issues. JCOC is the oldest existing DoD outreach program having been held more than 80 times since its inception in 1948.

The primary goal of the JCOC program is to increase understanding of the mission of the DoD and the U.S. defense posture and capabilities by increasing public exposure to, and understanding of, military personnel, facilities, equipment, and programs.

Makin Island recently returned from a seven-month deployment and was the first U.S. Navy ship to deploy using a hybrid-electric propulsion system. By using this unique propulsion system, the Navy expects over the course of the ship's lifecycle, to see fuel savings of more than $250 million, proving the Navy's commitment to energy awareness and conservation.

This initiative is one of many throughout the Navy and Marine Corps that will enable the Department of the Navy to achieve the Secretary of the Navy's energy goals to improve our energy security and efficiency afloat and ashore, increase our energy independence and help lead the nation toward a clean energy economy.

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