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Volume 08 Issue 08

LOA Success! (page 4)

Skin Cancer Screenings Portsmouth Brings Their “A” Game To Wasp (page 8)


They Are Ready For You (page 9)


Honor • Tradition • Excellence

Wasp Softball In Full Swing (page 10)



FIRST CALL STAFF Commanding Officer Capt. Gary Boardman

Executive Officer Capt. Brian Teets

Command Master Chief

CMDCM (SW/AW) Brian Schlicht

Operations Officer Cmdr. Rick Potter

VI Division Officer

Lt. Cmdr. Francis Carmody


Public Affairs Officer

MC1(SW/AW) Leslie Tomaino

Public Affairs LPO

MC1(SW/AW) Gretchen Albrecht

Production Supervisor MC1(AW) Erik Siegel

Shipmates! I am pleased to let you know the cruise books are here! I’ve had the chance to look over these books myself, and I have to say they look great! If you were onboard during the cruise, don’t miss out on the chance to take those memories home! The books will be available for purchase on the mess decks during chow hours for the very affordable price of only $30! If you have already purchased a book, don’t worry: you will get them very soon!

Did you notice? We’ve changed our format! But, this is not all we want to change. We want a new title which fits with our new design. We, the First Call staff, decided it should be up to you, the hard-working members of the crew! We’ve narrowed it down to a few choices: 1) The Stinger 2) The Yellow Jacket 3) Wasp X Now, if you want to keep the name “First Call,” or if you have a suggestion of your own, let us know! (Clean suggestions only, please!) E-mail your vote to:





Art Director









MC3 Kevin F. Johnson MCSN Caleb Cooper

Staff Writers

MC3(SW/AW) J. C. J. Stokes MCSN Michael Forbes First Call is produced by the USS Wasp Public Affairs staff. The editorial content of this newspaper and any supplement is prepared, edited and provided by the public affairs office. First Call is an authorized publication for military members serving aboard USS Wasp (LHD 1) and the ships of Amphibious Squadron 6. Its contents do not necessarily reflect the official views of the U.S. government, the Department of Defense, the U.S. Navy or the U.S. Marine Corps and do not imply endorsement thereof. Questions or comments can be directed to the public affairs officer or the editor. All news releases and submissions should be sent to



On the cover: Machinist’s Mate Fireman Frank Klier ignites the torch with a Zippo lighter during a light-off in the forward main machinery room (MMR) aboard the ampihibious assualt ship USS Wasp (LHD 1). Wasp enigneers are testing their equipment after a recent inspection from Afloat Training Group and a boiler inspection in the aft MMR.

By: MC3(SW/AW) J. C. J. Stokes, Staff Writer

Cmdr. Darrell Mathis, assigned to the amphibious assault ship USS Wasp (LHD 1), has been selected for advancement to the rank of captain for the supply corps for the fiscal year 2013. On May 6, Mathis, who serves as the supply officer (Suppo) aboard Wasp, received an unexpected phone call from a fellow Wasp officer he will never forget. On the other line was Lt. Byron Jordan, Wasp medical department admin officer. “Congratulations!” he said. “You’ve made it!” “At first I did not know what he was talking about,” said Mathis. “However, once he said I made captain all I could do was smile from ear to ear. If you asked me 23 years ago if I ever thought I would be a captain in the Navy, I would have said no.” Although, Mathis may not have thought he would have been a captain in the Navy, there are certainly some Sailors who could not picture a better candidate for the job. “I have never seen a man like him before,” said Lt. Roel Orozco, Wasp stock control officer. “He does not need to yell to express his frustrations

in order to get things done. He is approachable and willing to help junior Sailors navigate through their problems.” Born to a working class family who valued the importance of an education, Mathis, the middle of three boys was a star athlete, pupil and a leader in training. “I made straight A’s all through high school and college all while playing sports,” said Mathis. “I learned from my parents, if I wanted to be somebody I had to apply myself and if I applied myself I could achieve greatness and go places.” In his junior year of college Mathis began to think about life after graduation and what he wanted to do. There was one problem: he didn’t know. “My older brother suggested I should join the Navy,” said Mathis. “I never thought about the military let alone the Navy, but my brother was convincing. He did not want me to consign myself to normalcy, and he was also in the Navy.” In the fall of 1991, Mathis was commissioned as an Ensign in the U.S. Navy after completing a bachelor’s degree in finance. Since, he has mentored thousands of Sailors.

“The Navy is an intimidating place for any Sailors first coming in and Sailors are in need of good mentors,” said Ensign Justin Shull, Wasp sales officer. “I have a good mentor in Commander Mathis. He allows the division officers to grow, develop and make mistakes. We know we have to get things done and sometimes we do not want to do it, but Suppo finds a way to make the things we do not want to do fun and we get it done. He will surely be missed aboard Wasp.” On May 30, Mathis is scheduled to leave Wasp to start a new chapter in his life. Mathis is slated to serve as the Chief of Information, Deputy Chief of Staff, G-6, for Military Surface Deployment and Distribution Command. Like all great mentors, Mathis has a few words for Sailors coming up through the ranks. “People are people, no matter the rank” said Mathis. “You have to care about their needs and they will take care of you. Poise yourself to be able to take advantage of opportunities no matter the level. Balance your personal and professional life, and shine when given the time to shine. You will not be the best always, but you have to be able to perform your best always.”



By: MC3 Kevin Johnson, Editor


A light-off assessment (LOA) is nothing new to engineers. Every 18 months and five years, Afloat Training Group (ATG) members come aboard a Navy vessel to conduct safety walkthroughs, inspect spaces and test the knowledge of engineering watch standers. The assessment tells ATG, and in turn big Navy, how a ship is functioning at one of its most basic operational needs: the ability to pull out of port and execute the mission. For any Sailor wearing an engineering rate, this assessment means long hours, extra work and lots of prepping. For engineers aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Wasp (LHD 1), an added wild card was in the deck. “It was really tough with the contractors being aboard,” said Machinist’s Mate 3rd Class Jason Wright, an engineer in the aft main machinery room (MMR) aboard Wasp. “Sometimes the space would be filled with workers, and that made it difficult for us to prepare.” On top of that, ATG had recently conducted a boiler inspection in the aft MMR, which happens once every five years. “Lots of equipment had to be put


May 6, 2013

back together,” said Machinist’s Mate Fireman Christopher Seeley, aft MMR. “It added a lot to our workload.” Along with getting engineering equipment back to operational status, crewmembers also needed to participate in weekly main-space fire drills. As an additional pressure, the engineers needed repaint and keep up with daily cleaning in their spaces. To help with the extra work, Wasp leadership outsourced a tiger team of Wasp Sailors from many divisions to help the engineers. “Thank God for the tiger team,” said Wright. “They got a lot of the dirty work done while we were fixing the equipment and they really made this inspection easy for us.” To further help everyone involved, ATG members came aboard Wasp before the LOA to assess the progress of the engineering department and give feedback on areas needing work. “It was kind of like preseason,” said Ensign George Gagnon, forward main propulsion division officer aboard Wasp. “They came aboard to scout the guys out and see their talent.” The result of almost four months of preparing spaces, fixing equipment,



practicing main-space fire drills and studying for watch stander oral boards paid off with outstanding results. Wasp engineering watch standers scored above average compared to other LHDs in the fleet, there were no discrepancies and ATG marked the main-space fire drill as “Satisfactory.” “It normally takes two days to complete the inspection, and we did it in one,” said Chief Machinist’s Mate Jose Fernandez, aft MMR leading chief petty officer. “Our engineers got everything together and working in a short time after the boiler inspection and showed a high level of knowledge. It was awesome.” Despite the rigorous workload, junior Sailors in the engineering department appreciated the openness with which their leadership approached the LOA. “There was such great communication,” said Wright. “They were very clear on our instructions and the expectations they had of us. It made everything run so fluidly, much better than the previous inspection.” Wasp engineers are currently performing light-offs to further test equipment integrity.

(top left) EN3 Tyler Harvard secures an emergency pump discharge valve. (top center) MMFN Robert Greninger studies the dials in the forward MMR before lighting off the boilers. (top right) MMFN Frank Klier shows MM2 Joshua Thibodeaux his technique when inserting the torch into the lighter. (upper-center) MM3 Edward Guenther and EN3 Durand Jackson stand at the ready with an AFFF hose and a bottle of PKP in case of an emergency. (lower-center) MM1 Henry Joiner reviews the light-off checklist. (center) Greninger warms up the torch to ensure it engulfs in flames. (lower left) Greninger inserts the torch into the burner. (lower right) Greninger extinguishes the torch once the boilers have been properly lit.

First Call




Cookies. Every mother’s child knows them. Oreo, Chip’s Ahoy, Keebler: these are the names so many know so well by the time they are old enough to talk. Like these sugar-slinging powerhouses featured in any given grocery store, the bakeshop aboard Wasp prepares batches of fresh cookies for consumption. Chocolate chip, oatmeal, sugar are the many types of cookies the bakeshop creates for Wasp Sailors with a sweet tooth. The aroma is inviting and offers the promise of a favorite childhood treat. The only question is do you want a cookie? Photos By: MCSN Michael Forbes Photo Subject: CS2 Michael Benton


May 6, 2013



First Call


Photo and Story By: MCSN Caleb Cooper, Art Director

A team from Naval Medical Center Portsmouth dermatology department hosted skin cancer screenings aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Wasp (LHD 1) May 7. The personnel from the dermatology department at Naval Medical Center Portsmouth held this event to coincide with melanoma awareness week with screenings at the hospital all week without a referral. They simultaneously offered several commands the opportunity to have a team come out and conduct screenings; Wasp took them up on this. It had been the first time in a few years the dermatological team came to the waterfront. “In my 13 years in the Navy I’ve never had a medical department put out a service like this,” said Chief Aviation Boatswain’s Mate (Handling) Cory Schwisow crash and salvage leading chief petty officer (LCPO). “It was always like if you have an issue come to medical but they’ve actually promoted this opportunity and said look if you have an issue or any questions here’s


May 6, 2013

an opportunity to get educated and get looked at.” “The opportunity came up for them to do some screenings for water front sailors so Commander. Ly, senior medical officer, quickly said, ‘Yeah Wasp would love to have that done,’” said Senior Chief Hospital Corpsman Cam Moffatt, the medical department LCPO. “One of our health initiatives this year is to try and decrease the number of Sailors that have skin cancer.” The team consisted of two dermatologists, a physician’s assistant, two registered nurses, a nurse practitioner, and four Corpsman. They came aboard Wasp to screen members of the crew. Throughout the day Sailors went to medical for scheduled appointments or walk-ins to get a screening for early signs of skin cancer. “Every year we try to raise people’s awareness that they should be checking their skin and getting skin checks,” said Lt. Cmdr. Michelle Walters, one of the team members.

An awareness which is important as these checks are applicable to anyone and everyone. “I was fortunate that they came on board because I was worried about skin cancer,” said Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class Nicholas Carlton, biomedical equipment technician. “I have a family history of it.” “Melanoma can happen in any age group and it’s the most deadly form of skin cancer,” said Walters. “We are seeing a rising instance of melanoma in all age groups”. Which is all the more reason this event took place, so the dermatologists can detect skin problems early on in a patient, which raises the success rate for treatment of skin cancer success. “We are looking at different types of specialists to do mass examinations,” said Moffatt “Anything we can do to prevent disease or catch anything that could be serious early is always a plus.” Wasp medical department plans to host as many events like this as possible in the future.

Photo and Story By: MC1(AW) Erik Siegel Art Director

If there’s one thing, one idea, which unites all service members it’s the mission is stressful. While mission readiness is at the tip of what Sailors do, what of their family members? This is the idea behind the Family Readiness Group (FRG). “It’s a command sponsored program that the command, the CO, XO, and myself, feel very strongly about, helping our families be strong with their Sailors and their families,” said Wasp Command Master Chief Brian Schlict. “And understanding what’s going on the ship is very, very important for us.” The understanding Master Chief mentioned is a huge part of what the FRG is about: a direct line of communication from those in charge, like the commanding officer, executive officer and CMC himself, to the families, spouses and children, who remain ashore when their Sailors are away. When those Sailors are away the families left behind need more than information, they also need to know they are not alone. “The whole point of the FRG is to provide support for not only the military members themselves, but for their families, children, wives, girlfriends, significant others, partners, moms,” said Jamie Robinson, Wasp FRG president and wife of Machinist Mate 1st Class Ken Robinson in Engineering department. “We try and make the transition into military life as easy as

possible for people, providing them resources that are available to them. We try to be a good flow of information from the command to the families to keep everyone on the same page, to keep the military families connected.” While it may sound like the FRG is only worthwhile when Wasp is out to sea, nothing could be further from the truth. “It’s very good for the families, very family-oriented,” said Engineman 3rd Class Matt Deets, a member of Engineering department. “I would highly recommend it, actually. It makes it so everybody knows what’s going on at all times; the wives can know what’s going on the ship. It’s a good networking tool for the spouses.” And it’s the networking which encourages the relationships the FRG is built on. At the time of this writing the FRG members are planning for a summer picnic as well as a ladies night out on the town outside of their normally scheduled monthly meetings. “We can still keep the family tight as a unit by doing the family events and getting the kids involved and meeting other military spouses,” said Robinson. “Being a military family with the moving and the duty days, and things like that, and picking up, having to make new friends and get to know a new area you never lived in. So it’s nice to get together with other spouses who may have been in this area longer than you and know about different playdate groups and things like that and fun places to go in the area. It’s nice to have the support system of people to talk to.” Reaching the FRG is as easy as looking them up on Facebook. Typing in “USS Wasp FRG” within the search bar at the top of the browser will get someone well on their way to involvement with one of the most active

FRG’s on the waterfront. Additionally, the Plan of the Day always includes the email address to the president herself. “Our FRG’s great. They are always doing stuff,” said CMC Schlict. “We give them all the support that they want. They want to come aboard the ship and sell something to raise funds, we formally support that. We come to these meetings; the captain’s been here, and I come frequently. Our FRG does a great job and we’re going to support them in everything they want to do.” A support which Robinson said she can’t do her job without. “Our chain of command is fabulous on this ship. I mean it has absolutely been fantastic,” she said. “The CMC and I are in contact constantly through emails. If at any time there’s a change in the schedule or something, they’re more than willing to come to the meetings and help out.” Despite the chain of command’s support, there’s one thing the FRG always needs more of: Wasp families. “We would love to hear from our Wasp families,” said Robinson. “Our goal is to meet their needs and support them how they want to be supported or need to be supported and in order for us to do that we need to know what it is they need from us so we can help them. So if they tell us what things they’re interested in learning about or hearing about or what sort of events they want to be involved in or participate in then we can do it, but we just need to know what the need is or interest is.”

First Call



Photos and Story By: MCSN Michael Forbes, Staff Writer

It wasn’t the sunniest of days at Naval Station Norfolk as Sailors from the amphibious assault ship USS Wasp (LHD 1) took on their counterparts from the guided-missile cruiser USS Normandy (CG 60) in the first softball game of the year, May 6. Like the overcast day the players met in, people can feel down when the skies are gray; just as there are points in a Sailor’s life where his morale is not at its highest. With a healthy dose of sportsmanship, command outings such as softball can be just the prescription to rejuvenate hearts and minds. “It gets our mind off of work and helps relieve stress”, said Personnel Specialist Seaman Luis Cruz, one of the Wasp softball team members. “I don’t know what I would do if I couldn’t play sports.” For a softball team to function properly everything must move and work smoothly, just as it would on a ship. While a softball team and a ship are two distinct environments, two key factors unite them. “Camaraderie and teamwork”, said Chief Aviation Boatswain’s Mate Corey


May 6, 2013


Schwisow. “We rely on teamwork on the ship just how we rely on teamwork on the field; this game gives us the chance to work on our teamwork and make new friends.” For Sailors new to the Navy, adjusting to a new lifestyle while meeting new people on a ship as big as Wasp might prove difficult. Command activities like softball make it easier for Sailors to make this adjustment. “It makes your experience at the command that much more enriching,”

said Lt. j. g. Anthony Despota, another Wasp softball team member. “When you’re involved in sports, or other activities, you become more connected and involved giving you that family and friends environment, it makes you more connected to the command.” At the end of the night it was not important who won or who lost. What counted was the Sailors from both commands who built on their teamwork and made new friends, uplifting command morale.

(opposite top) HM2 Nicholas Carlton hits a pitch during a softball game May 6. (opposite bottom) ABHC Cory Schwisow pitches to a player from USS Normandy. (upper right) IT3 Brian Nichols waits for a hit to come his way. (upper right) Carlton runs past first base. (middle left) AOC Marvin Knowles slides onto home plate. (middle right) Schwisow pitches to catcher ABHAN Aran. (right top) ABH2 Luis Sanchez lowers his head to help avoid being hit by a ball while running to first base. (right bottom) Schwisow hits a ball.

First Call


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