Sunday, August 12, 2012

The Nuke

For those who don't know, the Nuke is my oldest daughter, she is the middle child of our three offspring. She is a Surface Warfare Officer (Nuclear). That's right, she's a SWO. Nuclear propulsion is her thing. Which should immediately tip you off that she is WAY smarter than me. Not that that's a really big surprise, all of my kids are smarter than me. That's the way it's supposed to be.

The Nuke once asked me, "So Dad, how does it make you feel that all of your kids make more money than you?" Well, I was up front about it, "It makes me proud kiddo. Kids should be more successful than their parents. Otherwise, I'd feel that your Mother and I did a crappy job of raising you."

Occasionally I take credit for helping to raise the kids. But, to be quite frank about it, the Missus did all the heavy lifting. I was there for moral support and to provide funding for all the necessary child-rearing requirements. So I did, kind of, help raise the kids.

Now the Nuke is what we called a "hard charger" back in my day. She has always worked hard for everything she's accomplished. And to be quite honest, in this time of (shudder) "Diversity", she's had to go out of her way to prove herself. Diversity (with a big "D") is one of the things that drive her to distraction. She's had to wonder at times whether some great eval she received was based on her performance, her gender or a combination of the two.

I like to think that it's based on her performance. And I'm not just saying that because I'm her Dad. Back in my active duty days I had females that worked for me, and females that I worked for. Saw both good ones and bad ones. I could also tell the ones that were where they were at because of their gender, not because of any particular skill-set they brought with them.

And I'm here to tell you, the Nuke made it based on skill and native talent. Quite frankly, some of the men she's worked for have told me that sometimes the Nuke scared the living "you know what" out of them. If she scented any of that "Diversity" crap around her, she would let all and sundry know, in no uncertain terms, that she demanded to be judged on her performance, not her gender.

Her first Department Head once told me that when she first reported aboard her first assignment (DDG-74, USS McFaul) that he was a little leery of having a female Anti-Submarine Warfare Officer (ASWO) in his department. He assured me that after a few days, he wished he had a few more just like her. The following vignettes all came to me by way of her Department Head and/or Leading Petty Officer (LPO).

First of all was her, shall we say, "colorful" use of the English language. One of the first things she did upon becoming the McFaul's ASWO was to visit her sonar spaces. She was not very impressed with the housekeeping in that space. So she instructed her sailors that they had two hours to get the space cleaned up and ship-shape.

When she returned, she discovered that her sailors were not taking their brand new female ensign very seriously. The space was still a mess. So she gave them unshirted hell in a language that they all recognized and promptly announced that they would be standing port and starboard watches (six hours on duty, six hours off duty). They were a bit stunned. But they sucked it up, cleaned up their spaces and came off that duty rotation after only a couple of days. But the sailors knew that the new ensign was serious.

Her Department Head told me that story when I first visited McFaul. He said that he'd asked her where she got her "salty" vocabulary. When she replied that her Dad was a retired Master Sergeant, he said that that explained a lot. Asking what he meant, he told me that her sailors were rather impressed with her vocabulary and somewhat dismayed that she seemed to know many enlisted tricks for "putting one over" on the new ensign.

At the risk of being ostracized by my fellow NCOs, I must admit that I did give the kids a few tips and tricks of the trade. For the "good of the service" and such. Nothing they wouldn't have learned after a few months anyway.

Her LPO related to me the story of how the Nuke canned her Chief Petty Officer. Yup, fired his lazy a$$. Seems that the good Chief would only be around when he had the watch. Otherwise he'd be in the Goat Locker, taking his ease. Well, the Nuke got tired of doing her own paperwork and his paperwork. SO she let him know that he was NOT pulling his weight and he needed to start doing so.

Well, the Chief called her bluff. So she told him to report to the Department Head for reassignment as he was no longer her Chief. She made her LPO the acting Chief. Well, seems the Chief didn't take her seriously and went to the Skipper instead of the Department Head.

Well, by now the Nuke had a reputation on board for getting stuff done. When the Chief told the Skipper that he'd been canned and didn't like it, the Skipper's response was, "ASWO fired you. I see no reason to countermand that order. Looks to me like you need a new job Chief. Why are you talking to me?"

Now the Nuke was not all fire and brimstone. On a stop over in Newport, RI (where I got to spend 6 days on board, on and off) the Nuke had me take her, the Systems Test Officer (STO) and the First Lieutenant from the pier up to the Navy Exchange. When we left, the Nuke had like four shopping bags chock full of Halloween candy. I knew they were putting out to sea the next day (and would be at sea for Halloween) and asked her, "Uh, you're going to be out for about a week before you head back to Norfolk. Isn't that a bit too much candy?"

The Nuke just looked at me and said, "The candy's not for me Dad. It's for my sailors." At that point the STO (a former chief himself, now a Lieutenant) just looked at me and nodded. He later told me that the Nuke's sailors loved her. Sure she was tough on them, but she took care of them too. That was one thing I did teach her, always take care of your people and they'll take care of you.

Now this is what the Nuke is normally like. Cute and cuddly like a baby panda. All innocent looking and the like.

But she can be ferocious when she needs to be. Also panda-like, but more like this:

The Nuke. My oldest daughter. I am so damned proud of her.


  1. You're justified in yer pride, Sarge. My SN2 is a SWO as well, albeit of the engineering persuasion. His language is every bit the stereotype (swears like a sailor), but he came by his honestly, as he's a mustang. Both boys are, actually. I'm pretty proud of 'em, as well, and I have the distinct impression that they're a whole helluva lot smarter than their Ol' Man, too. ;-)

    (But they still call me for advice.)

    1. Glad to hear they check in with the old man for advice. That right there shows that they're smart kids and good officers. After all, you're their Dad AND a senior NCO. My kids do ask me for advice, the WSO usually wants tips on how to handle situations from a Master Sergeant's perspective. Being a flyer her contacts with the troops are somewhat limited. But I did tell her to be nice to the maintenance guys, after all the life of her and her pilot rely on them doing a good job. I'd say we both have reasons to be proud of our offspring!

  2. by the way, I appreciate how you've been writing out full names for the acronyms, most helpful to me Thanks

    1. The readers speak, and I listen. (Well, most of the time anyway!)

  3. The Nuke sounds like a great Officer, the kind we either aspire to be, or wish we had been. And you sound like one proud papa bear!

    1. I have been remiss in responding to the Commentariat, been off the grid all week working on the Cunning Plan.

      But thank you kindly Tuna. I think she's a great Officer and apparently so does the Navy.

      And oh yeah, I am one proud papa bear!

  4. What a great officer, and what a great dad for bragging abut her like this! Here's to The Nuke!

    1. Thanks Susan. And yes, here's to the Nuke and all who sail the bounding Main!

  5. Thanks for sharing your story! My dad retired as a SMSgt and often gives me the exact same advice (I too, was a female SWO...though not a nuke.) Despite his ability to always squeeze something about "squids" or how I should have joined the Air Force into the conversation (he loves picking on me/the navy), having his support and mentorship means the world to me. I'm sure your daughter feels the same. :)

    1. 'Tis a good Dad who supports his kids in whatever endeavor they choose to pursue. Sounds like you have a very good Dad.

      I did toss "squid" into the mix once and was battered and bruised by the time the kids were done with me. Son was a SWO, of course there's the Nuke (who married a SWO Nuke) and the youngest daughter (the WSO) flies the back seat of the Super Hornet (her husband actually flies the things!)

      So I felt somewhat outnumbered, outgunned and (certainly) outwitted. And definitely out-ranked, five "Fleet Lieutenants" versus one crusty old Master Sergeant. I will never cross swords with the JOPA again!

    2. Viva la JOPA! :) I know how you feel...I'm from an Army/Air Force town, so my dad and his Air Force cronies always seem to outnumber the Navy folks. It doesn't mean I don't throw my fair share of Air Force jokes around when I'm home, but I always pay for it. Especially when the 30 yr CMSgt overhears it! haha :)

    3. If you do Facebook, check this out: Some really funny stuff I'm sure you'll enjoy (or remember with a cringe?)


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