ESG 7 Commander Speaks with Midshipmen Aboard Essex


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May 5, 2007
"Do something you like," was the resounding message imparted by Commander Expeditionary Strike Group (ESG) 7 Rear Adm. Carol M. Pottenger on June 16, to the 32 midshipmen currently aboard USS Essex (LHD 2) for their summer cruise.

Pottenger, who embarked Essex for Talisman Saber 2007, talked about her career and the Navy, and answered questions and concerns of the midshipmen. During the hour-long session with the midshipmen, Pottenger covered topics such as the Chief of Naval Operations' vision for a 1,000-ship navy, amphibious operations and building a good career.

"It did hit home -- that you have to follow what you want to do," said Midshipman 2nd Class Elizabeth J. Spangenberg, part of the ROTC from the University of San Diego. Spangenberg said she wants to be a helicopter pilot and though she hasn't had the opportunity yet to get in the cockpit, she's going to heed Pottenger's advice and go for it.

The midshipmen, including those spread throughout ESG 7/Task Force 76, are getting a firsthand look at Navy life through a special 45-day period available to ROTC and Naval Academy students.

Midshipmen are assigned to specific divisions, where they get a general overview of the ship as well as personal training from running mates, who may be either enlisted or officers, depending on the midshipman's experience.

Aboard Essex, the midshipmen are learning about all sides of the spectrum, from aviation to Marine Corps life to explosive ordnance disposal. The midshipmen agreed the experience has been very worthwhile and acknowledged that they got some idea of the bigger picture when listening to Pottenger. "Things like the 1,000-ship navy and why we're out here, in terms of amphibious operations, was important to hear," said Midshipmen 3rd Class Andrew W. Alvarez from the Naval Academy.

Other takeaways from the midshipmen's session with Pottenger, according to Alvarez and others, was career advice. Pottenger stressed that no matter what position you are filling, you must strive to succeed and separate yourself from the pack. She encouraged the midshipmen to seek higher responsibility from the get go, letting their commanding officers know their desire to serve as officer of the deck or tactical action officer. One midshipman asked about the transformation from being a division officer, focused on people, to being a commanding officer, focused on politics.
"You never lose your focus on people," Pottenger responded. "As you grow in the ranks, indeed, you look more outside the lifelines, but you always have to care about those that serve under you."

In respect to this element, the midshipmen were most impressed.

"I can tell she does care about people, by talking to us and being personal with us," said Midshipman 2nd Class Amanda C. Francis, from Penn State University. "Hopefully I can be that type of leader when I get my commission."

Commander, ESG 7/Task Force 76, the Navy's only forward-deployed amphibious force. Task Force 76 is headquartered at White Beach Naval Facility, Okinawa, Japan, with an operating detachment in Sasebo, Japan.

For more news from Commander, Amphibious Force, U.S. 7th Fleet, visit

States News Service
June 19, 2007 Tuesday