Photo LDO Program Comes Full Circle

Story Number: NNS100202-11Release Date: 2/2/2010 12:24:00 PM
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By Staff Sgt. James Bolinger, Defense Information School

FORT GEORGE G. MEADE, Md. (NNS) -- A Sailor from Service Support Learning Site Fort Meade was commissioned as the Navy's last photo limited duty officer (LDO) during a Jan. 29 commissioning ceremony at the Defense Information School (DINFOS).

Ensign Michael Larson, previously the DINFOS Navy Detachment leading petty officer, had his ensign shoulder boards affixed by his parents, his officer's jacket placed on him by his wife and his officer's cover placed on his head by his two sons.

"I am overwhelmed with humbleness," Larson said. He was selected as the only photo LDO this year.

Similar to warrant officers, LDOs are specialists in their career fields. Unlike most officers, LDOs are selected from a pool of career first class petty officers or chief petty officers with 16 years or less time in service.

Most photo LDOs are in charge of visual information departments on large ships, such as aircraft carriers, or shops ashore

To become an LDO, Sailors must submit an extensive officer package reflecting the individual's technical proficiency as well as leadership capability. Prospective LDOs are interviewed by a board comprised of current LDOs who determine a candidate's abilities.

"The value of an LDO is seen from the deckplates to the wardroom," said Lt. Cmdr. Bruce Colkitt, the head of the Visual Communication Department at DINFOS, who was himself commissioned as a photographic LDO in 1999.

There are 45 photographic LDOs in the Navy and each one has seen the ranks of E-1 and E-2.

When a new officer is commissioned, it is naval tradition that he or she hand a silver dollar to the first enlisted member to render a salute. Larson handed out five coins. Navy Seaman Glenn Slaughter, a student in the Basic Mass Communication Specialist Course class that graduates Sept. 23, received the last coin after rendering his salute.

"It was an honor for [Ensign Larson] to share the experience with me," said Slaughter, about being chosen to be a first salute for the last photo LDO. "I will keep it forever. I look up to [Ens. Larson]. He is someone I want to emulate."

After his commission, Larson performed his first official duty as an ensign. He reenlisted Petty Officer 1st Class Ryan Courtade, an instructor at DINFOS.

Larson's first assignment as an officer will be to attend LDO school. He will then return to DINFOS and attend the Public Affairs Officer Qualification Course
before serving as deputy public affairs officer aboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) homeported at Norfolk Naval Station, Norfolk, Va.

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