In January, my planned visit to Hawaii was, unfortunately, derailed due to a shutdown of the federal government. A few weeks ago, however, I was absolutely thrilled to make good on my promise to reschedule that trip, and to meet face-to-face with JAG community personnel stationed in Pearl Harbor. While I was on the road, I also stopped by Millington, visiting our Southeast branch office there and meeting with legal practitioners doing critical work on behalf of area commands. Please read on for more details about my trip!
May 29: Naval Support Activity (NSA) Mid-South, Millington, Tenn. NSA Mid-South is the Navy’s Human Resources Center of Excellence, and three critical shore commands – Navy Recruiting Command (NRC), the Navy Manpower Analysis Center, and Naval Personnel Command (NPC) – are headquartered there. The base hosts 7,500 personnel every day, and it also is home to the Region Legal Service Office (RLSO) Southeast Millington branch office. My first stop at NSA Mid-South was a lunch with enlisted personnel at the Helmsman Club. Some of my lunch companions currently are assigned to the branch office, and others provide paralegal support to NRC and NPC. We talked about their daily practice and career aspirations.
I then visited the newly renovated RLSO branch office and met with Lt. John Berosky, who is the base staff judge advocate and the legal assistance attorney. Then, after meeting with Rear Adm. Jeff Hughes, deputy chief of naval personnel, I visited the NPC legal spaces and spent some time with Capt. Jim Lucci, NPC legal counsel. I then met with our JAG Corps detailers and our team of community managers. Finally, I presented two end-of-tour awards to Lt. Mathew Bagioli and Cmdr. Hollis Simodynes, and also had the honor of re-enlisting Legalman 1st Class Carlos Villareal. My very productive and enjoyable day concluded with a hail and farewell social at Central Barbeque.
May 31: Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam (JBPHH) After a day of travel, my visit to Hawaii kicked off with an early morning hike up the Mokapuu Lighthouse Trail. At the trail’s peak, I enjoyed some absolutely spectacular views and breakfast with personnel from RLSO Hawaii, Defense Service Office (DSO) Pacific Detachment Pearl Harbor, and other area commands. I then departed for JBPHH – one of the Navy’s busiest harbors. The sprawling base is home to more than 175 tenant commands, 11 ships, 18 submarines, and 6 fixed-wing aviation squadrons. Total base population is more than 66,000. Suffice it to say that our JAG community representatives in Hawaii are kept extremely busy. After my arrival, I took part in a brown bag lunch with members from our Hawaii enlisted community. I was glad to answer their many thoughtful, wide-ranging questions. Then, during a lovely ceremony, I presented the Military Outstanding Volunteer Service Medal Award to Legalman 1st Class Deandra Whitehead and presided over the re-enlistment of Legalman 2nd Class Domingo Rodriguez and Chief Legalman Erica Keels. I also frocked Legalman 2nd Class Amber Forrester.
From there, I visited the U.S. Pacific Fleet legal offices, taking part in an in-call with the fleet judge advocate, which included a discussion about the many critical legal issues they’re working on. After that visit, I hosted a roundtable discussion with legal staff from the region and Commander Naval Surface Group Middle Pacific. I then met with Rear Adm. Brian Fort, commander, Navy Region Hawaii, who is extremely pleased with the legal support he’s receiving from our personnel. The day concluded with a dinner in Honolulu with our local senior officers and their spouses.
June 1: JBPHH During the second, and final, day of my visit, I met with Lt. Cmdr. Jarrod Franks, our local Victims Legal Counsel (VLC), and his staff. We discussed their current caseload and the challenges and benefits of the VLC practice in Hawaii. I then took part in an in-call with our RLSO Hawaii commanding officer, Capt. Lia Reynolds. After that visit, Lt. Adam Walker lead me through the DSO spaces and briefed me on renovation plans. I hosted an all officer roundtable discussion with officers from RLSO, DSO and other area commands. I shared with them some advice, telling them to be prepared to have courageous conversations and that, in my experience, they sometimes may be the only person between a bad decision and a good outcome. My Hawaii visit was capped off by a roundtable discussion with civilians, during which we talked about hiring, administrative support, and other issues they’re facing.. When I departed JBPHH later that day – heading to the airport to catch a flight home – I reflected upon the rich conversations I had with people working in every level of our organization, in both Millington and Hawaii. What a fantastic trip!