The evening stars start to disappear as the morning sun battles with the clouds to control the horizon. The wind howls, pushing rain droplets towards the silent formation of Sailors.
“Training Department, AH-TEN-TION!” rings a voice of authority as the formation snaps to attention in one fluid motion.
Sailors begin to recite with pride “The Sailor’s Creed” at the top of their lungs. A small smile plays on the lips of the Leading Petty Officer (LPO) of USS Nimitz’ (CVN 68) Training Department as the echo reverberating throughout the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard fades away.
Aviation Ordnanceman 1st Class Ynocincio Martinez took the job as the training LPO because of his passion to help new Sailors get adjusted to ship’s life aboard Nimitz and setting them up for success.
Part of Martinez’ job is supervising Nimitz’ indoctrination (indoc) class for new Sailors reporting to the ship. Indoc is two to three weeks of classes covering topics such as damage control, maintenance, in addition to basic military knowledge and learning points of contact around the ship.
This job demands Martinez work closely with new Sailors coming aboard and their departments, to make sure they understand the mission of the ship and the role they play within Nimitz.
“Coming to the ship is a lot to take in, from being away from home, to learning programs and policies, and experiencing culture and diversity,” said Martinez. “It’s hard to find two people on the ship from the same place. Someone can know all about the Navy and how it works, and someone else might not know the first thing about being a Sailor.”
For some Sailors Nimitz is their first duty assignment, and it can be overwhelming due to the size of the ship, living in close quarters with more than one person and having fire and medical drills.
“When I first got to the ship, I was nervous,” said Airman Tanner Shumate, assigned to Nimitz’ Air Department. “I’ve never seen something so big and it was very overwhelming. Martinez was a huge help; he kept saying how this place is just like living on a floating city, so you’re going to know a lot of people. That was a comfort, because he could tell I was nervous about having to be around so many people. Since then I’ve made a lot of friends and have gotten used to how the ship works.”
Martinez treats Sailors fairly, whether this is their first duty assignment or their third.
“Martinez looks at Sailors as Sailors,” said Chief Religious Program Specialist Stanley Ponder, leading chief petty officer of Nimitz’ Training Department. “He doesn’t say, ‘Oh, this Sailor is in Deck Department or any other job.’ He looks at them and realizes he needs to figure out how to talk to each one individually to help set them up for success.
As Nimitz begins to prepare to leave the shipyard, her crew is growing in size. Nearly half of all new Sailors reporting to Nimitz have never been aboard a Navy ship before. Besides a Sailor’s sponsor, Martinez is one of the first people who help mentor the new Sailors and get them comfortable with the ship.
Martinez tells every new Sailor to stay positive, because he knows that not every day will be the best.
“Throughout my experience in the Navy, I’ve learned that anything is possible. Coming from a previous command and into something completely new was a little jarring,” said Seaman Jacob Kaweck, assigned to Deck Department. “Hearing Martinez talk about staying positive really helped me divert my negative thinking, from where I was to where I can be.”
People who work with Martinez can see that he enjoys his job.
“He is enthusiastic about his job,” said Ponder. “You can tell that he really enjoys helping new Sailors and passing on knowledge that he has learned throughout his time in the Navy.”
As the training LPO, Martinez gets to see Sailors when they arrive and throughout their time on Nimitz.
“I love my job. It is one of the most rewarding things I’ve done. I get to see Sailors strive to be their best and that excites me. If anyone asked me to be LPO for Training Department anywhere else I would say ‘yes’ in a heartbeat,” said Martinez with a smile on his face.
Once the indoc process is complete, Sailors head back to their divisions with tips and advice from Martinez and his team, such as where to get signatures for warfare qualifications and who to talk to when life gets tough.
“I love it when Sailors come up to me and tell me that they got one of their warfare pins, or say how well they’re doing in their rate and how excited they are to keep doing well,” said Martinez.
Almost a year has passed since Martinez took on the role as LPO for Nimitz’ Training Department, and he hopes to someday take over training at another command.
After a long day of work, Martinez gathers the new Sailors around and tells them how they did that day. Finally, he dismisses them, and they gather their things to leave. The Sailors file out one by one. The sound of Sailors talking fades and finally disappears, and he is left only with the sound of the air conditioner running. He grabs his cover off the desk and walks out of the classroom, taking looking back at the empty chairs waiting to be filled with yet another class of Sailors.
Story by MCSN Liana Nichols and photos by MC2 Ian Zagrocki