First Department Head Meeting

The first pre-com department head meeting was in Washington DC in Aug 1988, well before we had orders to the ship, or for the line officers, we had attended Department Head School.

The highlight of the gathering was an evening Potomac River cruise on the CNO barge with the Admiral and Bobbie.

Yes, that is not Jim Pearson in the photos – I debated photo-shopping Jim’s head on, but figured to leave history the way it was. Some history is easier to crop out.

I recall we were supposed to have lunch in one of the Pentagon messes with RADM Gee (in whatever the Surface Warfare Code was then), but he kept getting delayed, and we finally got to choke down hot dogs with him at the corridor 456 gedunk in 10 minutes before his next meeting.

OPS, WEPS, and CHENG all ended up in the same Department Head class in mid 1989.  Apparently knowing your detail prior to the day they were announced was a no-no, and we were told we could not tell anyone we were already under “orders,” although still just verbal at that point.

When the detailer presented the slate of available billets to the class, the three DH positions were listed.  All eyes went right to the DDG51 OPS billet as the plum billet.  No one wanted the WEPs billet, and maybe one person might have been interested in the CHENG position.

So we are in a quandary.  Cannot tell classmates we already have the jobs, yet the jobs are already demanding action from us, so we are sneaking off at breaks to find phones to work issues, etc.  Quickly we realized there was another classmate doing the same thing – turns out he was the pre-selected CHENG for a CG precomm (he was the the one person that might have wanted the DDG51 CHENG job).

Classmates started calling in all their silver bullets to get the OPS job.  At some point, I think one of the classmates, George, finally got a clue from the detailer that they were already filled.  As I recall (Kirk or Rob to clarify if I got this wrong), we were walking along with the three of us, plus Dave and George.  He says to Dave, “so you must the be DDG51 Engineer.”  Dave says no (does not volunteer that he has a CG lined up) – so he turns to me and says, then it is you.  I answer “yes.”  I don’t think that was the answer he expected, so he just stopped at that point.

I don’t recall any of our classmates being upset with us for having the jobs already (at least that I heard), but they were quite upset the detailers told them they were available, as some called in their silver bullets for the unobtainable OPS job.