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PCU George H.W. Bush Training Division Commissioned at RTC

Navy NewsStand

Story Number: NNS070908-08
Release Date: 9/8/2007 1:36:00 PM

By Chief Mass Communication Specialist Aaron Strickland, PCU George H.W. Bush Public Affairs

GREAT LAKES (NNS) -- Sailors from Pre-commissioning Unit (PCU) George H.W. Bush (CVN 77) commissioned the first PCU Bush training division at Recruit Training Command (RTC) Great Lakes Sept. 5.

In a brief ceremony, PCU George H.W. Bush Engineering Auxiliaries Division Officer, Lt. Robert Crocetta, handed the PCU George H.W. Bush guidon to the Training Division 365 recruit chief petty officer.

The guidon will be carried by one of the division's recruits any time the division marches during its seven weeks of basic training at RTC. The passing of the guidon from Crocetta to the training division, is a gesture that symbolizes the adoption of the division by the crew of America's newest aircraft carrier. George H.W. Bush is currently under construction at Northrop Grumman Newport News Shipyard in Virginia.

The commissioning ceremony had an impact on both the recruits and the Sailors.

"It was exciting to [transfer the guidon] on behalf of the captain and the crew of the ship," Crocetta said. "The energy and enthusiasm of their responses during the ceremony was so exciting."

"This will make us a stronger team, and I'm all about teams," said Seaman Recruit Mandi Sanchez, a recruit in the George H.W. Bush division. "That's why I joined the Navy."

After the commissioning ceremony, the recruits made their way back to their living area, and the George H.W. Bush Sailors had a question and answer session with "their" division.

"I've been reliving my past," Crocetta, a prior-enlisted officer, said. "Answering their questions was a fun time. It was rewarding to share my experiences and how they relate to basic training."

The trip was a homecoming of sorts for Yeoman 1st Class Jessica Conklin and for PCU Bush Junior Sailor of the Year, Culinary Specialist 2nd Class Wilson Santiago. Both Sailors attended basic training at RTC in 1999. They noted the many improvements at RTC since their basic training.

"There have been a lot of upgrades here," Santiago said. "Modern technology has taken over basic training."

Just before the ceremony, Santiago, Crocetta and Conklin were given a tour of the building in which the recruits live and train.

The building that houses the George H.W. Bush division is called a "ship." The ship is called USS Enterprise, named after the eight United States ships that have borne the name, including the current nuclear powered aircraft carrier USS Enterprise (CVN 65). Opened in May 2005, the Enterprise building is completely self-contained, as a real ship would be. Recruits can train, exercise, receive basic medical care, eat and sleep without leaving the building. The building also contains two classrooms.

"It's one thing to have a computer at my desk at work and be trained to use it," Conklin said. "It's another thing to get to use them at basic training and be prepared before I get out to the fleet. I can see how it can help the Sailors."

Conklin, Santiago and Crocetta also noticed that the lobby of building is decorated with dozens of pieces of memorabilia from each Enterprise class aircraft carrier. The building's markings resemble a ship, too. Every wall in the living quarters is marked with frame numbers (called "bulls-eyes") as a real ship would have.

"We didn't have all the reminders of the fleet when I went through basic training," Conklin said. "This really gives them a sense of what to expect."

Conklin said she was glad to be part of the commissioning.

"This has given me a lot more motivation," she said.

One recruit said that being associated with PCU Bush and its namesake only strengthens his feelings about being in the Navy.

"I'm honored to do this," said Seaman Recruit Kevin Binkley. "I'm glad to have been put in a company to represent him."

Conklin said she was glad to share her experiences with the recruits.

"We're giving them something that shows that we care," Conklin said.

That thought was echoed by the Enterprise Ship Leading Chief Petty Officer, Senior Chief Culinary Specialist Victor Hernandez.

"This is a wonderful experience," Hernandez said. "Any time we can put something for them to shoot for, they'll do better."

Sailors from George H.W. Bush will return to RTC later this fall to be with the recruits as they train and attend their graduation.

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