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Below is a transcript of the remarks as delivered:
Good evening and thank you. I am humbled to be here tonight. I am humbled because of the support in this room and beyond this room, for your United States Navy. So to each and every one of you, for the sponsors, for those of you who are here tonight just to support a shipmate, thank you so much. For all the spouses, who have either supported your significant other when they served, or you are permanently supporting your spouse who served… thank you.
What an evening, and what a great turnout! My wife Linda and I are excited and honored to be here with you tonight, back in Hampton Roads, which, in many respects, is the center of the universe of the United States Navy. It's the largest concentration of a fleet in the world. Of course, it is the only place in the world where we build United States aircraft carriers.
Adm. Caudle, thanks for your introduction. To you and to Donna, thank you for your leadership.
Representative Kiggans, congratulations Ma'am. It's good to have you here with us tonight.
Representative Wittman, we have 54 U.S. ships in construction, and seven shipyards right now across the country, his fingerprints are on every single one of them.
Maryellen, thank you. Lou, you are back in recruiting duty my friend. I'd like to thank the Navy League and I'd like to thank hundreds of invisible hands that have worked so tirelessly to pull tonight off. And in particular, I'd like to thank you for your efforts to support PCU John F. Kennedy, to all the work that's going into designing the chapel, designing wardroom, designing the mess desks, so that the spirit of the President that we just saw in the video, comes alive. That is God's work. Thank you very much for that effort.
The Kennedy’s motto is to “Serve with Courage.” Courage was a virtue that President Kennedy most admired, a virtue that he embodied during his service in World War II, in the South Pacific. As many of you know, he even wrote a book called, Profiles in Courage.
So tonight, if you bear with me for just a few minutes, I thought it would be fitting to make “Serving with Courage” the theme of my remarks.
In the profession of arms, service just doesn’t mean physical courage, it also means the moral element as well; a virtue that is the hallmark of our very finest Sailors and Marines. Moral courage is a distinct form of bravery. It means taking responsibility, and it means accepting accountability, and it means speaking up to your shipmates and your chain of command. It also requires humility and requires a certain degree of vulnerability. And having moral courage means holding yourself, and others, to the highest standards of integrity and honor.
With that in mind, I thought we'd take a few minutes to share some profiles in moral courage from members of the Kennedy team.
As I do so, I'd like to first recognize the triad leading the warfighters who are bringing the Kennedy to life: CO Day and his wife Melissa; XO Furco and his wife Patty.
I don’t think CMC Gray could make it, but I want to recognize him and his leadership and we want to recognize him as well.
As the first profile in courage, let me start with one of Kennedy’s leading Ordnancemen, is there any other rate, Senior Chief Kendrick Anderson…. and so for the Kennedy table, as I mention your name, if you would please stand, along with your spouse or significant other, that would be great.… Shuntay you please stand as well.
What does Senior Anderson do for a living? Well, he and our aviation ordnance teams manage the guns, ammunition, missiles, and bombs that we put onto our helos and fighter jets.
Think about what it takes not only to handle and load those weapons … but to ensure that they are properly assembled, inspected, and maintained, so they don’t fail when we need them most. It’s a dangerous job and there’s no room for failure.
I’ll also add that … while the ship is in the yards and Senior Chief Anderson trains his ordnance team to be ready for future operations, and he also manages the command’s equal opportunity program. In doing so, Senior helps remove personal, and social, and institutional barriers. Allowing all of our Sailors to rise to the greatest levels of responsibility, based on their merit, based on their capability, and based on their performance. Senior, thank you for your leadership and professionalism.
Next, Corpsman 3rd Class Sabrina Moncada. HM3, is there any other rate, she's an outstanding Sailor and outstanding Corpsman … and Kennedy's current Junior Sailor of the Quarter! HM3, I think about the special qualities that it takes for a young Sailor, who is still relatively new to the Navy, to project confidence, know your skills, and be a stand-out performer amongst stand-out performers. Congratulations to you, and we look forward to hearing about your accomplishments and Kennedy hits the fleet!
To the Personnel Specialists, PS1 Natalie McLaughlin, PS2 Shameek Mabry and PS3 Bitzie Nguessan from Kennedy's superstar personnel division. Now allow me to provide a little context. Kennedy has about 2,000 members onboard… but about 500 of them are on temporary duty, supporting other commands across our Navy. They are earning qualifications that they otherwise wouldn’t get in the shipyard.
As we dine this evening … Kennedy Sailors are on USS George H.W. Bush, in the Mediterranean. They’re also on USS George Washington … down the road from us here … helping prepare that ship for her homeport shift to Japan. And they are, as I said, at almost 50 other commands all over the place.
None of this would be possible without the PSs and their teams. And I’m told that their turnaround time for travel claims on Kennedy is less than five days.
That's what Get Real, Get Better is all about. It's about having the backbone to continuously self-assess and self-correct, and become a high-performing Navy team, so thank you!
Another profile in courage here tonight is Chief Corpsman Tramaine Brown, and her husband, who is also a Corpsman Chief… please stand. They are impressive. Chief Brown serves as Kennedy's Substance Abuse and Rehabilitation Program counselor. It takes more than moral courage to help those struggling with substance abuse … and equally great courage to seek help for it.
Chief makes both possible … promoting wellness, health, and readiness at the command. Chief, you have a critically important job, helping others…. keep up the outstanding work.
Now there’s one more group I’d like to recognize, and they aren't here tonight. That’s the personnel from the Reactor Department. They are either working, or are resting between shifts, as they prepare for Kennedy's first nuclear reactor to go critical in the near future. They have an extraordinarily difficult job, and no fail job, that carries with it tremendous responsibility … and I know they are working tirelessly in preparation for this significant upcoming milestone, so in absentia, please give them a hand.
Having spoken about Kennedy's warfighters, I'd like to take just a few minutes to talk about Kennedy itself … it's a marvel of steel … it is a cathedral of steel … that will be the most advanced, most capable warship that's ever sailed from the United States. Kennedy's capabilities, come at a time when we need them the most. And I'll just say in terms of aircraft carriers, some still question whether or not their time is over, and that we should stop investing in them. Let me be clear, aircraft carriers are, and will be, the most survivable airfields on the planet. They are mobile. They are elusive. And they are fast. Imagine that if Norfolk International Airport could move, in a day's time, west of the Mississippi. So we'd be launching jets, as we maneuver the equivalent of a four acre aircraft carrier across the United States.
Further the aircraft carriers have been a versatile platform for over a century. So as our Air Wings have evolved, the carrier has evolved with them. Onboard the Enterprise, some 50 different type model series aircraft flew off that deck.
I'd like to take a moment here, before I forget, to recognize some of the former Sailors from the USS John F. Kennedy (CV 67), and their final CO Admiral Dennis Fitzpatrick, Dennis, if you could please stand; and I asked anybody that has sailed on, flown on or flown off CV 67, to please stand. Your DNA is alive and well amongst the Sailors that I just recognized.
Indeed, we see both physical and moral courage in our Sailors across the world every day. And I would just like to wrap up by saying, that day-in and day-out, your Navy is at work, powered by the professional competence and character of our Sailors.
Now ladies and gentlemen, I believe that everyone in this room is sometimes presented with the opportunity to demonstrate courage. It will take the dedication of everyone represented in this room if we are to succeed together as a nation —¬ Service Members, government civilians, industry, and committed American citizens like every one of you.
I’m confident that working together as one team, we can “meet any hardship … support any friend … and oppose any foe.”
So, inspired by President Kennedy and by this outstanding Kennedy team… let us serve with Honor. Let us serve with Commitment. And let us serve with Courage.
Thank you very much.
Adm. Mike Gilday
02 March 2023
07 March 2023
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