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Women's History Month: Rear Admiral CJ Jaynes

Navy leaders and pioneers

"From the Revolutionary War to current conflicts, women have played a crucial role in the security of our nation and the success of the U.S. Navy. Join us as we celebrate Women's History Month by profiling women leaders and pioneers across the Navy."

Rear Admiral CJ Jaynes is currently serving as the program executive officer for Air ASW, Assault and Special Mission Programs, PEO(A).

Q: How did you decide to join the Navy?

A: I joined the Navy after four years of teaching math. I was looking for an adventure and believed the Navy would give me opportunities to see places and do things that I would never be able to do on my own. I immediately became hooked and the desire to serve my country blossomed into a 33-year adventure.

Q: Who have your role models or mentors been that have influenced you or helped to guide you throughout your Navy career?

A: Within the first few weeks of arriving at my first duty station (VT-86 in Pensacola, FL), I met LT Frank Smith. We worked in the maintenance department together and he quickly became my mentor and go-to person for all things Navy and aviation maintenance. Throughout my career Frank continued to provide guidance and is still my sounding board today. Later in my career when I transitioned to the acquisition community, I worked for Ms. Steffanie Easter. She was the person I modeled myself after - her professionalism is impeccable - and the manner in which she cared for the workforce is one of a kind. I wanted to be just like her.

Q: Can you share a story about someone, perhaps someone in your family or otherwise, who has influenced you or challenged you to become more than perhaps even you ever thought you might?

A: My determination and drive were influenced by my two brothers who taught their little sister to compete with the boys and never give up. They were several years older than me, but they took me everywhere - taught me how to play baseball, football, basketball, and golf - and never let me win, by the way. In their own way they were teaching me how to survive in a tough environment where the rules were not always fair. That mindset has kept me going, pushing through barriers, even today.

Q: Please tell us which past assignments are the most memorable to you and why?

A: My tour as the AIMD Officer in Diego Garcia was the best ever. We were isolated and had to support the deployed VP squadron with minimum infrastructure. It was a leadership challenge maintaining aging support equipment and keeping parts on the shelf for the aircraft. With 100 sailors, 4 Chief Petty Officers and a CMC all pulling together - we developed a professional family atmosphere far away from home. At the end of the day, what a great place is was. Running, swimming, cycling, volleyball - you name it, we played it. We worked hard and we played hard - we were a family.

Q: What does being a leader in the Navy mean to you?

A: Being a leader means coaching, mentoring, guiding and training our juniors and enabling them to be successful and achieve greatness. Everyone deserves an opportunity to excel, it is up to us to make sure the opportunities are there. We are only as good as the legacy we groom to replace us. I take pride when someone I have led gets promoted, selected for a special assignment, or achieves a career milestone. The future is for them, my role as a leader is to prepare them to lead the next generation.