by MC2 Michael Doan, PAO, NAF Atsugi
What are some things in Japan that you are looking forward to experiencing?
Learning the language. That’s kind of on the top of the list. Experiencing the food and seeing some of the architecture that exists here. When you look at some of the old style Japanese buildings, they are absolutely beautiful and I look forward to getting out and seeing the wonder that they exhibit with the bright colors. The structures are so profound. I really like seeing that kind of stuff. Actually getting out and seeing it and touching it.
Do you have a mission statement or list of priorities that you would like to share with our readers?
I am still working on my mission statement, but I am still going to follow the pattern that Capt. Bushey set, but with an emphasis on accountability, care, and excellence. Those are key elements of honor, courage and commitment. If you are accountable, you hold yourself to a higher standard and you care, which should lead to excellence in all you do. So they are all combined with honor, courage and commitment.
How did you earn your call sign?
How did I get my call sign ‘Chilly’? Everyone thinks about Chili Mac, but of course my call sign is not “Chili”, it is “Chilly” as in cold. When I was serving aboard the George Washington, I was an aircraft launch and recovery officer, also known as a shooter. We were out in the Persian Gulf launching and recovering aircraft and it gets hot out there. On the flight deck I would wear my flight jacket underneath my float coat along with my long sleeve turtleneck and cranial. It is well above 90 degrees. Everyone else just wore their float coat and jersey. People would look at me and ask, “Aren’t you hot?” So they started calling me “Chilly” and, of course, it stuck.
What are some leadership traits that you like to stress for both junior officers and enlisted Sailors?
One of the most important leader traits in my opinion is to be able to listen. If you are not listening then you are not hearing what is going on around you. You don’t know what steps to take toward some of the actions that you plan in your day-to-day mission. Of course, every leader is supposed to be directive, decisive and caring. That’s a huge part of it. Being courageous and strong and setting a positive example. Honorable, truthful and committed – those three basic core values that we always talk about. Every leader brings something different, whether it’s their personality or how genuine they are. Every leader has to be accountable. They have to shoulder the brunt of anything that occurs. So they should be willing to stand up and take risks for their Sailors and stand up for what is right. That takes a lot of courage.
How do you feel about commanding a base in the FDNF?
It’s an honor and a unique experience. It is certainly different from commanding a base in the states. You have some of the same challenges. It’s a unique opportunity. For me, I have never been to Japan before. I have had some dealings within the PACOM AOR (Pacific Command Area of Responsibility) as I had time on the PACOM staff. There are some unique challenges, especially when it comes to culture and figuring out what you can and cannot do to make sure you are respectful to the community that you serve as well as ensuring that you meet the mission of your home nation. It’s a delicate dance to not embarrass the United States and show the utmost respect to your host nation.
Can you tell me how you earned you’re your enlisted submarine warfare pin?
I was a third class midshipman and if you are not too familiar with the whole midshipmen cruise process, as a new midshipman they send you out to pick something to do for the summer. I had the honor to be part of a submarine crew (USS Baton Rouge) and when I got aboard, I was assigned a running mate. His name was MM1 (Machinist Mate 1st Class) Pugsley. I kind of looked him up and I believe he is a retired master chief now. When I met him, the first words out of his mouth were ‘Hi. I am MM1 Pugsley and I am going to get you qualified’. There were five of us on the submarine, three of us were third class midshipmen and two were first class midshipmen. We third class midshipmen worked together and earned our dolphins.
A final message to add?
We are all diplomats from the U.S. here in Japan and we must carry ourselves in the utmost respectful manner and remember that we represent the United States. We need to show that we are good neighbors and great partners. That’s from the top down. We all have to hold each other accountable. Like I said before, you have to care about this stuff and when you do, you are going to be excellent. That is my mantra, accountability, care and excellence. As long as you hold to those values, the other things will fall into place along with that honor, courage and commitment. I hope I can get every Sailor to feel the same way.