PORTSMOUTH, Va. (NNS) -- Imagine a young Italian-American New Yorker in the 70's and 80's, living in the area known as Yonkers.
His name is Todd Mangin. Not too many people know about his hometown, located about five-to-10 miles from Manhattan. His neighborhood is usually considered a part of Upper West Chester on the border where the Bronx meets Manhattan.
Born in 1975, his family doesn't have much money and they spend what they do have for him to go to Catholic school. It is a strong Italian family, with traditional family values and amatriarchal grandmother that he spends most of his time with.
Fast-forward about 42 years later and he can be seen again, this time all grown up, with a calm demeanor and an inviting-warm smile. His office aboard USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69) (Ike) is not extravagant or opulent, but a simple place with simple things. On the outside is a sign indicative of how far he's come in life, it reads "CMDCM (SW/AW/EXW) Todd A. Mangin, Command Master Chief." Beside his desk and a couch, stands a cabinet with only a few family photos and a small bronze statue of his bulldog named Balboa, after his favorite boxer from the movies. When asked about his fascination with the mythical boxer, he had a simple answer.
"I love the underdog," said Mangin. "Rocky had a dream and he fought for it and he accomplished his dream."
Mangin came into the Navy in 1993 as an undesignated seaman to serve his country and help people. He said basic training wasn't too hard of an adjustment, because of his upbringing.
"My parents were always very strict and hard on me, in New York you had to be," said Mangin. "Then I got out to my first ship and that's where you have some freedom, and the Navy was a little different back then. I think it's better now. I was on an auxiliary ship, the USS Merrimack."
He didn't really know what his future would be, but Mangin said he loved being a boatswain's mate. He saw much of the world, but looking back he wished he had spent more time taking advantage of in-port Morale, Welfare, and Recreation tours than he did. Ironically, it would be on the Merrimack where he met his future wife, Naoma.
Mangin and Naoma have been married for almost 21 years with three children, Kory, Faith and Lauren. It was Faith and Lauren who gave him the plaque sitting on a shelf in his office, which reads "Father of the Year." He smiles and jokes when he talks about it, the love for family and his kids ever present.
"The thing that I will always remember is he was very interactive with the crew, always on the deckplates, always around," said Lt. Cmdr. David Knobel, Ike's principal assistant-services, and the supply officer when Mangin served as CMC on USS Mitscher (DDG 57). "He's fair, he's consistent, he sticks up for the Sailors. As long as you're doing the right thing and telling the truth, he'll have your back in a heartbeat."
Knobel said Mangin would ask a new Sailor to be enthusiastic about their job, stay motivated and always strive to be the best they can be.
After the Merrimack, Mangin moved onto to help commission the eighth Nimitz-class aircraft carrier, Truman, where he acted as the boatswain's mate of the watch during the ceremony on July of 1998.
One assignment helped him understand Sailors on a personal level, when in 2002 when he reported to Recruit Training Command in Great Lakes, Illinois, where he trained 10 divisions of over 900 recruits and acted as an instructor at the Navy's only school for recruit division commanders.
"It was a great job, we see civilians turn into Sailors, and if you know them long enough you get to see them turn back into civilians and productive members of society," said Mangin. "It lets me understand what people go through. People have a lot going on in their lives outside of the Navy and that's something we have to think about it. That's something I think about every day."
When he was a senior enlisted advisor for Maritime Expeditionary Forces in Haiti for Operation Unified Response, Mangin said he gained a deeper appreciation for nature and he was proud to be on the ground helping people.
"I saw what this planet could do, and I was proud to know my Navy was helping people in need," said Mangin. "The Haitians did come up and say 'thank you, thank you, thank you' in the beginning, when we were going through and helping them clean up, you got a lot of hugs from little kids. Going expeditionary was completely different, I'm a shipboard Sailor; I'm a blue water Sailor. Expeditionary was a different type of Sailor and I would say the saddest and most rewarding was the Haiti mission."
Up in Newport Rhode Island, during CMC course class 51, he was exposed to the Hogan Leadership Assessment, which taught him a great deal about himself.
"I learned a lot about self-awareness and how my actions can impact and affect the people around me," said Mangin. "Before I go to sleep each night I always try to think of things I could have done better and any mistakes I made, so I don't make that mistake again. If you could sit and look in the mirror every single day and ask yourself how I will make myself a better person, how can I affect somebody's life today and how can I be better today than I was yesterday, and remember that as you are going about your daily interactions with people, you will change."
Mangin only has one vision and one message for the crew of the Ike, a crew he said is extremely polite and hard-working.
"It boils down to one thing: everything you're doing-everything-is a choice," said Mangin. "You joined as a choice and you are paid to do a job. If you go through and have negative thoughts about what you're doing every day, no one will make you feel better. It's up to that individual person, that individual responsibility and accountability to change to the positive."
Mangin is almost to the end of a long naval career and he feels he has achieved what he wanted in life. He smiles and talks warmly when he discusses the life of a retired CMC.
"This is the epitome of my career and I have no aspirations for anything else after this," said Mangin about his current tour on Ike. "I'll do my job, I'll go somewhere and I'll influence and help Sailors. I'll finish my master's degree in management and then at my 30-year mark I'll retire. I'll take my wife to Europe for about a month, and then we're going to get in the RV and hit just about every state and see everything before going to North Carolina and living out my life in the country."
When asked what advice he would most like to give the crew, Mangin said, "Keep moving forward. If you stand still, you'll get nowhere in life or at your job. In everything, you have to keep moving forward. You have to give the Navy 100 percent, and they'll give you back 110 percent. It's tough, but you have to study and you have to work hard. You never know, one of these Sailors could be the next Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy."
Ike is undergoing a Planned Incremental Availability (PIA) during the maintenance of the Optimized Fleet Response Plan (OFRP).
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