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Feb. 16, 2017

By MCSN Jamin Gordon


POLARplunge cs-1 sailors HELP SET UP EVENT

By MCSN Krystofer Belknap




gw cpo 365 serves at food bank


On the cover: IT3 Cody McNary hammers a steak into a ramp. (Photo by MCSN Jamin Gordon)

PHOTO of the



By MCSN Jamin Gordon


Sailors carry mattresses off the enlisted brow during a mattress offload evolution. (Photo by MC2 Jessica Gomez)

The Washington Surveyor Commanding Officer

Executive Officer

Command Master Chief

CAPT Timothy Kuehhas

CDR Colin Day

CMDCM James Tocorzic

Public Affairs Officer

Deputy Public Affairs Officer


LCDR Gregory L. Flores

LTJG Andrew Bertucci

Editors MC1 Alan Gragg MC3 Kashif Basharat

MCC Mary Popejoy

Staff MC2 Alora Blosch MC2 Jessica Gomez MC2 Jennifer O’Rourke MC3 Wyatt L. Anthony MC3 Anna Van Nuys

MC3 Michael E. Wiese MCSN Jamin Gordon MCSN Oscar Moreno Jr. MCSA Julie Vujevich

The Washington Surveyor is an authorized publication for Sailors serving aboard USS George Washington (CVN 73). Contents herein are not the visions of, or endorsed by the U.S. government, the Department of Defense, the Department of the Navy or the Commanding Officer of USS George Washington. All news releases, photos or information for publication in The Washington Surveyor must be submitted to the Public Affairs Officer (7726).

*For comments and concerns regarding The Washington Surveyor, email the editor at*

ailors aboard the aircraft carrier USS George Washington (CVN 73), worked together with other Sailors, to set up the 25th anniversary of the Polar Plunge Special Olympics event on the waterfront in Virginia Beach, Feb. 2. Polar Plunge is held annually across the United States, including five locations throughout Virginia. Volunteering to set up the event wasn’t just a fun day outside of work, but also an opportunity for GW crew members to give back to the local community while learning valuable life lessons. “It is important for Sailors to volunteer because when the job is done, they know they did something for someone else, and they never have to look for a reason as to why,” said Chief Information Systems Technician Gloria Fisher, a volunteer at the event. “It hits them on a different level. It humbles them into being a better Sailor, a better mentor and an all-around better person in their community.” Polar Plunge is an opportunity for individuals, organizations and businesses to give back by raising funds for their local Special Olympics programs. For individuals like Fisher, this event hit a little closer to home. “I have a nephew who is autistic,” said Fisher. “When there are large crowds he’s closed off, and may have different types of tantrums. There are autism groups that participate in these types of events to get them out of their shell, so this event is personal to me.” No matter the reason Sailors chose to volunteer, it all comes back to the prin-

ciple of giving back. “Volunteering allows the community to see that the Navy gives back,” said Chief Information Systems Technician Demetria Horton, a volunteer at the event. “Not only do we proudly serve our country, but we proudly serve our community.” People know that Sailors protect and Sailors volunteer to set up for Polar Plunge 2017. (Photo by serve while deployed; MCSN Jamin Gordon) however, they may Polar Plunge gave CS-1 Sailors a chance not realize that a Sailor’s duty doesn’t for more teamwork and camaraderie. stop just because they’re in port. “Volunteering to set up Polar Plunge “Any chance we get to serve the gave us a chance to work togethcommunity, we try to take it,” er outside of the workplace,” said said Chief Warrant Officer Carl Information Systems Technician Smith, the communications offi3rd Class John Broge, a Sailor ascer aboard George Washington. signed to CS-1. “It was nice to have “As Sailors, we are responsible for a break from the day-to-day tasks. protecting from abroad, as well as We were able to be more relaxed protecting our local community.” and enjoy hanging out, while workA majority of GW Sailors who voling as a team to get the job done.” unteered at this event are assigned to GW Sailors are encouraged to conthe ship’s combat systems department, tinually give back to the community radio division (CS-1). The CS-1 leadand COMRELs are a great opportuership team has inspired junior Sailnity to do so; they are held throughors to give back through many events. out the year and are open to the entire In July 2016, CS-1 participated command. Cmdr. Philip Bagrow, the in a landscaping volunteer projcommand chaplain aboard George ect. A few months later in SeptemWashington, regularly notifies GW ber 2016, the division helped out Sailors of upcoming COMREL opat the Ronald McDonald House. portunities. Sailors interested in upWhile each of the volunteer events coming volunteer events can contact allowed GW Sailors to help the local the command religious ministries community, setting up for this year’s department for more information.

INFLUENCERS Chapter 1- MACS Strange Encourages Sailors To Never Give Up By M C S N Ja m i n G o rd o n

This series shows how African-American women use their positions of influence to motivate, encourage and empower other Sailors to always push towards their goals. The women featured in these stories overcame various challenges despite the fact that they are a part of a double-minority demographic. Their stories strive to inspire all Sailors that there are no barriers that cannot be broken on the path to success.


f I see that you have potential, I’m going to try to pull that potential out of you,” said Senior Chief Master-at-Arms Vermikalasha Strange aboard the aircraft carrier USS George Washington (CVN 73). “You might think I’m being mean or being hard, no, I’m challenging you to better yourself.” Strange uses her position as a senior chief to empower and motivate her Sailors. She left her home for boot camp Jan. 14, 1997, and saw the Navy as an opportunity to see and experience the world while receiving a paycheck. At that time, her main goal was to make chief petty officer and retire at 20 years of service. It didn’t take long for Strange to recognize the bigger picture for her career. “My ultimate goal is to leave behind some type of legacy of training our relief,” said Strange. “In addition, I want for our junior Sailors to have more persistence, and keep pushing through, despite their frustrations. As senior enlisted personnel, we just have to continue to train them and educate them on the proper Navy values and heritage, so we don’t lose it because of the constant change in our job.” As with anything worth having, the road to success isn’t always smooth-

ly paved. Strange encountered various challenges in getting to where she is now. “I was not always an MA,” said Strange. “I became a MA when you had to be an E-5 and above. I started off in the engineering rate, and I was as an undesignated fireman when I came in. My whole division was guys when I got to my first ship. I was the only female. I had a DIVO (Divisional Officer) who was a female. She encouraged me to not give up. Transitioning from engineering to MA, I encountered challenges because some guys didn’t think I could do some of the watch stations that were required because I am a female. The Navy is an equal opportunity environment, therefore they had no choice but to give me the chance,” said Strange. Just as Strange was inspired to overcome challenges throughout her career, she also looked to be an inspiration and a helping-hand to her Sailors. Strange saw potential in Master-AtArms 2nd Class Anthony Koch, a Sailor in her shop. She believed in him so much that she appointed him to a leadership position during the ship’s material and maintenance management inspection (3MI) in December 2016. “I was delegated to help with inspections,” said Koch. “This position forced me to expand my knowledge

of 3M. During one of the spot checks, I actually corrected a spot checker. I was able to prevent something from going wrong because I had taken the initiative to further my knowledge.” Strange continually encourages Koch to stay focused and keep working towards the next goal. Everything Strange does is in the best interest of her Sailors. In many ways she takes on a maternal role, and just like in any family, there will be a difference of opinion. “I feel like most of my Sailors feel as though I am hard on them, when really all I want them to do is better themselves, and not just do the minimum to get by,” said Strange. The trials she has faced throughout her career have helped her become a better leader because she is able to relate to her Sailors’ various situations. “At first I didn’t have a lot of empathy for single parents because I always felt as though people were using their child as an excuse to get out of work,” said Strange. “To make up for the time they were gone, I told my Sailors, whatever time they needed to get their children or pets situated was fine, but they had to come in after hours and make up that time so we could ensure we didn’t fall behind on our workload. Now that

MACS Vermikalasha Strange, right, assists a Sailor with his body armor. (Photo by MCSN Alan Lewis)

I have a son and I am a single parent I realize how tough it can be. I began to understand tough decisions, like who do you call on when your child is sick? Now that I’m a parent, I have a lot more empathy and patience.” Not only does Strange empathize with her Sailors, but she also takes the time to help them where she can. “I have an open door policy,” said Strange. “I have a hectic schedule, but I will stay behind. I make it a point to get out during cleaning stations and not only ask how my Sailors’ weekend was, but also see if they need my help. If I see that something seems off with them, I encourage them to come talk to me.” Having such a busy schedule combined with the rotation of the work schedule in

her department, Strange depends a lot on her first class petty officers as well as the Chiefs Mess to help get the job done. “For many of our Sailors, this is their first ship,” said Strange. “We’ve been in their position. I don’t know everything, but I know the Chief’s mess, so I will reach out to get the needed information. There is always someone else that I can approach to get the answers my Sailors need.” In addition to assisting junior Sailors, Strange also provides guidance where she can to younger officers. “A lot of officers are just as young as our junior Sailors,” said Strange. “If we don’t teach them, who will? They get it when they get out of school, but they don’t know the Navy way, so they de-

pend on us to help them learn the way, and steer them in the right direction.” If Sailors aren’t inspired to do anything else, Strange wants them to be inspired to always keep pushing forward. “I hope to instill ‘never give up,’” said Strange. “I don’t want my Sailors to ever give up. A lot of them feel like they will just do their four years and get out. If they try to push that much further, then in the worst case scenario, if they need the Navy, they’ve shown their chain of command they’re worth saving, so don’t count me out, and don’t count yourself out.” Strange surpassed her personal goal of becoming a chief, and continues to encourage and help other Sailors to do the same.

By MC1 Alan Gragg



Sailors pose for a photo while volunteering at the Foodbank of Southeastern Virginia and the Eastern Shore. (Photo by MC1 Alan Gragg)

Sailors fill Valentine’s Day balloons while volunteering at the Foodbank of Southeastern Virginia and the Eastern Shore.(Photo by MC1 Alan Gragg)


hief petty officers and first class petty officers assigned to the aircraft carrier USS George Washington (CVN 73) volunteered for a day at the Foodbank of Southeastern Virginia and the Eastern Shore, Feb. 13. The Sailors spent the day cleaning around the facility, and also assisted the food bank by blowing up Valentine’s Day balloons to donate to a dozen schools in the Hampton Roads, Suffolk, and Yorktown, Virginia areas. “This week, it just so happens that the food bank is having a big inspection,” said Chief Aviation Boatswain’s Mate (Fuel) Ben Dammann, who co-

ordinated the event. “Our focus today was cleanliness of the grounds, cleaning up the parking lots, the outside, cleaning up the bathrooms, and getting those inspection-ready. So, hopefully we helped them pass their inspection.” Filling the balloons is not a normal occurrence at the food bank, but the Sailors welcomed the mission to provide assistance however possible. “It was a demand that they had, so we helped fill up the balloons for Valentine’s Day to make one day of a child’s life better,” said Dammann. A few members of the group were assigned to make more than 1,000 balloons to give to kids of all ages.

“Overall, I really wouldn’t care if people knew that we were here doing this or not,” said Machinist’s Mate 1st Class Darren Kovas, who helped fill balloons. “Knowing the kids will enjoy having their balloon is a bigger deal to me than anything else.” Their efforts were part of a CPO 365 Phase I community relations (COMREL) event. CPO 365 Phase I training helps prepare first class petty officers for their role as chiefs, and community service is part of the training. “Part of the intent of this is to build camaraderie between the First Class Petty Officer Mess and the Chiefs Mess,” said Dammann. “We want to

BM1 Myron Fripp cleans a bathroom inside the Foodbank of Southeastern Virginia and the Eastern Shore. (Photo by MC1 Alan Gragg)

have that relationship to build on prior to selection, that way when we do have our new chief selects, it’s going to make that transition a lot smoother.” CPO 365 participants are required to participate in COMREL events throughout the year, and helping out at the food bank

STGC John Raduege swabs the floor inside the Foodbank of Southeastern Virginia and the Eastern Shore. (Photo by MC1 Alan Gragg)

was the first scheduled event. “The importance of this one was showing each member of the team how it’s organized, what goes into a COMREL, and what the expectation is from them from this point on,” said Dammann. “Every one of the chiefs here and the first classes seemed to be

communicating well, talking, and telling seas stories. That’s what it’s meant for, and I think that occurred today.” George Washington’s CPO 365 Phase I members plan to volunteer at local schools and soup kitchens, as well as help set up for community events like fun runs.


By MCSN Krystofer Belknap


t’s time to start thinking about taxes!” exclaimed Lt. Jennifer Schwartau, the deputy command Judge Advocate for the aircraft carrier USS George Washington (CVN 73). Tax season has arrived and W-2 forms are available for download. Schwartau said the first step to filing taxes is the gathering and preparation of documents, such as the W-2 form found on MyPay, social security numbers of dependents and any other tax related forms received in 2016. “It’s important to prepare ahead of time,” said Schwartau. “If you scramble around to gather documents in the last second, then you are going to miss the deadline. The sooner you file; the sooner you can get your refund, which means the sooner you get your money back from the government.” Sailors can download free tax filing software from militaryonesource. mil, and file themselves, or they can use the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) team on base for help. The VITA Tax Assistance Center (TAC) building B-30 on Naval Station Norfolk will provide support on the process of filing taxes. “Filing is pretty easy because the W-2 is arranged in blocks,” said Schwartau. “If you follow the instructions on the software you are using,


it will tell you what block from the W-2 you need to input information from. So it should correspond easily.” Schwartau said the biggest misconception about tax season is that people may think they don’t owe any taxes, but the government may have been withholding from their paychecks. Schwartau suggested that everyone should file anyways, especially since it is a civic duty, which can lead to charges from the Internal Revenue Services (IRS) and possible jail time if avoided. “The other big thing about tax season is actually figuring out which state to file in,” said Schwartau. “For military, you don’t have to file in Virginia just because you live here. You may use your residence you had established before joining the military.” Residency was an issue for one GW Sailor, Chief Machinist’s Mate (Nuclear) Adam Roberts, who said the Virginia Department of the Treasury stated he owed about $10,000 in back taxes from 2009 and 2010 after filing his taxes in 2015 under his North Carolina residency from before enlistment. It took Roberts about two months for him to contact the Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS) to receive his leave and earnings statements (LES) from 2009 and 2010, his full tax returns from those years and to contact the Virginia Depart-

ment of the Treasury. Eventually he received all of his funds, but Roberts said his tax return was delayed greatly. “I believe it’s because I was residing in Virginia while stationed here and returned later upon re-registering property and vehicles,” said Roberts. “That’s when I probably appeared to owe [the Virginia Department of the Treasury] taxes.” Roberts recommends anyone who returns to a duty station, where they will have to reside in, to contact the departments of motor vehicles and treasury to clarify their residency while filing taxes. Schwartau says people may be overwhelmed by all the forms and numbers during tax season. “It’s pretty simple,” said Schwartau. “Whatever income you got in gets taxed. Whatever you get back; in terms of your exemptions and, if you have children, your dependent credits, that’s the money you get back.” Pay close attention and reach out for questions on anything that may be a discrepancy. If you’re not sure, talk to your chain-of-command and/or contact Lt. Schwartau at J-Dial 7271. The official IRS website,, can provide more information on requirements, deadlines, and possible extensions. The IRS due date for filing a 2016 income tax return is April 18, 2017.



SUDOKU RIDDLES 1) What are the next three letters in the following sequence? J,F,M,A,M,J,J,_,_,_ 2) In a year, there are 12 months. Seven months have 31 days. How many months have 28 days? 3) I start out tall. The longer I stand the shorter I grow. What am I?

1) A,S,O. Each letter is the begging of a month. 2) They all have 28 days. 3) A candle


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