Surface Warfare Magazine
Sharing stories and news from Sailors across the U.S. Navy’s Surface Forces
Developing Strong, Ethical Midshipmen
SURFLANT Hosts Virginia Military Insitute ROTC

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.

SURFLANT Commander Rear Adm. Pete Gumataotao

"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."


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Gumataotao also emphasized the importance of understanding and following standard shipboard operating procedures, doing the right thing under pressure and building their knowledge bases. To conclude the discussion, he and the other speakers answered questions about ethical decisions, how to integrate themselves into deployed crews and suggested literature on how to be effective leaders.

"A couple of the most important lessons I took away from this experience is the significance of team-based leadership and having a questioning attitude as an ensign," said Midshipman 1st Class Killian Buckley, from Auburn, Massachusetts.

"The more we learn, the more effective our warfighting team will be." Surface Warfare Magazine

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