The amphibious assault ship USS Makin Island (LHD 8) operating off the coast of southern California 
PACIFIC OCEAN - The amphibious assault ship USS Makin Island (LHD 8) operates off the coast of southern California. The Makin Island Amphibious Ready Group is underway for a certification exercise preparing for an upcoming deployment. (U.S. Navy photo by Chief Mass Communication Specialist John Lill/Released)
Makin Island Legacy Program Provides Positive Mentorship for Sailors 
SAN DIEGO - Sailors aboard amphibious assault ship USS Makin Island (LHD 8) have a new way to help them meet both personal and professional goals thanks to a new command-sponsored Legacy Program that officially kicked off during the recent Oct. 1-13 underway period.

The objective of the new program is to provide a mentor for all E-6 and below personnel to encourage team building, knowledge of heritage and self-improvement.

According to Capt. Jim Landers, Makin Island's commanding officer, when senior leaders share their time and their personal and professional experiences, they strengthen their Sailors who will carry that legacy into the future aboard Makin Island and beyond.

"A successful Sailor can leave a legacy by helping other Sailors," said Landers. "An effective program can create a culture in which successful Sailors serve as role models, coaches, and confidants in guiding junior Sailors to success."

To one mentor, Hospital Corpsman 1st Class Renee Brown, leading petty officer of Makin Island's Dental Clinic, mentorship is about keeping Sailors on track to become successful.

For Brown, mentorship means providing a protégé with motivation and knowledge to be successful with their military career and after they transition into the civilian sector.

"I plan to teach our future leaders to achieve their goals in professional and personal education, finances, and community involvement," said Brown. "I also want them to pass on all the experiences they have gained to the next generation of Sailors to keep the military strong."

Her protégé, Yeoman Seaman Roderick Simmons, of the ship's executive department, said he appreciates Brown helping him become more successful.

"She's always looking out for me and trying to make sure I get ahead, and pushing me to get my qualifications, have a great attitude and stay out of trouble," said Simmons.

Both Brown and Simmons agree that the Navy, like life in general, is challenging for junior Sailors. A mentor is someone who can instill professional values and help them meet personal goals.

Usually the mentor/protégé relationship is relaxed, but there are times when a mentor has to be more invasive in his leadership style.

"People need to find a person who will tell them what they need to hear, not what they want to hear," said Senior Chief Gas Turbine Systems Technician (Electrical) (SW) Jeff Brotherton, Makin Island's Legacy Program coordinator.

Brotherton said that in order to make the program more effective, administrative responsibilities have been reduced when compared with similar mentorship programs. This will allow mentors and protégés to dedicate the time they give to the program for work on specific goals.

"We don't want this to just look good on paper; we are training the men and women who will relieve us," said Brotherton who has served aboard Makin Island since before the ship was commissioned. "The Makin Island way, and the pride in the command, is what I want to carry forward when I leave the ship."

To qualify as a mentor in the program, Sailors have to be E-5 or above and a minimum of one pay grade senior to their protégé. Mentors must have their primary warfare specialist qualification and must not be in their protégé's immediate chain of command.

Makin Island mentors must also be up to date on their assigned personal qualification standards and must have passed the most recent physical fitness assessment.

Commissioned in 2009, Makin Island is named in honor of the World War II raid carried out by Marine Raider Companies A and B, 2nd Raider Battalion on Japanese occupied Makin Island Aug. 17-18, 1942. LHD 8 is the second ship to bear the name "USS Makin Island."

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