Story by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Leon Wong
The Junior Enlisted Association (JEA) aboard the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN 68) hosted “Coffee with the Old Salts,” October 10, in the Chiefs Mess.
The event allowed junior enlisted Sailors to interact with some of the most experienced senior enlisted Sailors aboard Nimitz.
“I really wanted to see these junior Sailors, who might otherwise be too shy or may never get the experience, to just sit down with a master chief and just talk,” said Aviation Maintenance Administrationman 3rd Class Jeffrey Kline, from Hood River, Oregon, and president of the JEA.
During the event, four stations were set up with coffee, snacks and a master chief. Junior Sailors gathered around each station for 10 minutes at a time and spoke to the master chiefs about their careers, aspirations and even their personal lives.
“The reason behind the event was just giving the junior Sailors a chance to talk to somebody who made it all the way to the top in the enlisted ranks, giving them an opportunity to pick our brains a little bit and to find out what we did and our personal stories that got us where we are,” said Nimitz’ Command Master Chief, Jimmy Hailey.
The idea for the event came from a dinner between the JEA cabinet members, the command master chief and department leading chief petty officers.
“Having that kind of intimate experience with them where it’s all so relaxed and casual; we felt so lucky to have it as the cabinet members, but we wanted everyone to experience something like that,” said Kline.
The turnout for the event was slightly unexpected due to the late, one-day notice, but nearly 60 junior Sailors took an hour out of their morning to listen to the four master chiefs with over 100 years of combined experience.
“There’s a lot of different ways your career can go and you never know what’s going to happen, so you always want to set yourself up for success,” said Kline. “These master chiefs exemplify that overall philosophy.”
The Nimitz Carrier Strike Group is deployed to the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations to conduct maritime security operations to reassure allies and partners, preserve freedom of navigation and maintain the free flow of commerce.