SAN DIEGO (NNS) -- Members of Space and Naval Warfare (SPAWAR) Systems Command traveled to Recruit Training Command Great Lakes April 29 to participate in the completion of an eight-week experience of sponsoring Navy boot camp Divisions 153 and 154.
For some, like petty officer Joshua Jackson, who traveled to Great Lakes from San Diego, the visit was a homecoming of sorts.
Jackson went to boot camp at RTC Great Lakes nine years ago. He was struck by the technological changes: state-of-the-art "ships" barracks where the recruits live, learn and train; a gym with electronic sensors to count laps while recruits run; and Battle Stations 21 - the USS Trayer (BST 21), a "ship" spanning 210 feet and is a true-to-life mockup of an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer.
Recruits must pass the 12-hour Battle Stations event aboard the USS Trayer. The grueling test measures both Navy values and basic skills and only successful recruits may participate in the capping ceremony that follows.
There were no photographs for the brief ceremony, but it changes lives forever because at that moment on that day the "RECRUIT" cover is replaced by one bearing "NAVY," indicating their transformation from civilian to Sailor.
According to a Recruit Division Commander (RDC), Sailors should be willing to work long hours while maintaining the highest standards of the United States Navy and be "tough as nails."
When SPAWAR Commander, Rear Adm. Michael C. Bachmann, handed his colors to Divisions 153 and 154 to carry through boot camp, "Team" SPAWAR knew that sponsorship meant more than just showing up for boot camp graduation and taking a tour. It meant affording recruits the ability to feel like they were part of the Navy family, from the moment they were commissioned into boot camp divisions.
Bachmann's expectation was to have recruits carry the SPAWAR flag with honor, courage and commitment - the Navy core values. But the expectations for support during SPAWAR's sponsorship of recruits were not one -sided - recruits and RDC's had expectations of SPAWAR as well.
Senior Chief Nathan R. Cann, Recruit Division commander at RTC Great Lakes, responsible for one of SPAWAR's sponsored divisions, said recruits felt like they were part of the larger Navy family when they discovered that there was an active Navy component providing some of the wind at their backs.
"My recruits were not only working hard to make their division succeed, but also to make their sponsors proud of them. The recruits took the fact that they were sponsored to heart and carried the SPAWAR flag with pride," Cann said.
Divisions 153 and 154 made SPAWAR proud. When it came time for recruits and members of SPAWAR's delegation to break into small groups to talk about the Navy and what it would be like once they joined the fleet after boot camp the results were clear. All of the new Sailors had a story to tell and showed signs of genuine pride in their accomplishments within the two months of training.
Those two months ended on April 16 when Divisions 153 and 154 graduated in front of Bachmann, their invited guest of honor.
The SPAWAR mission reads in part to "... deliver advanced information capabilities to give Navy, joint and coalition forces a winning edge, from strategic-level decision makers to tactical-level operators."
The command recognized that such quality performance starts with people, and that boot camp is the first rung on the ladder for "tactical-level operators" or a even the future Chief of Naval Operations. Team SPAWAR will be back at RTC Great Lakes once more to continue the Naval mission as well as the mission of "Team" SPAWAR.
To learn more about sponsoring a Navy boot camp division see NAVADMIN 326/03, or go to www. navy.mil/local/greatlakes.
For more news from SPAWAR, visit www.navy.mil/local/spawar/.