NORFOLK (NNS) -- Commander, Naval Surface Force Atlantic (SURFLANT), hosted the Navy ROTC unit from the Virginia Military Institute (VMI) March 30, to promote the development of strong, ethical midshipmen.
Alongside several of his key staff members, SURFLANT Commander Rear Adm. Pete Gumataotao addressed a couple dozen midshipmen in an open forum and spoke about the importance of integrity, procedural compliance, and team building.
"The real test of your relevance is reflected in the actions of your Sailors," said Gumataotao. "Seek out those who inspire and aspire to excellence and learn from them. Set and exemplify the standards for the Sailors you will lead and they will follow you anywhere."
The VMI visitors also got to meet and receive guidance from Force Master Chief Suz Whitman and several other SURFLANT staff members.
"I think this was an awesome experience for the midshipmen because the admiral didn't talk to them as a two-star," said Cmdr. Randy Zamora, VMI Navy ROTC executive officer. "Instead, he brought it down to their level and made it relatable by recalling what it was like to be a junior officer. They are very intimidated by the fleet but the admiral encouraged them to be confident and gave them guidance on how to be successful."
Whitman spoke to the midshipmen from the perspective of a chief petty officer and offered advice on how to communicate effectively with their future chiefs.
"We have been there and done that," said Whitman. "Listen to your chief; they will not lead you astray. Our sole job as a chief petty officer is to take care of Sailors and that includes you. We are there to mold you, mentor you and motivate you, but more importantly, we are there to make sure you are successful."