The USS Carl Vinson Embark: One Year Later

March 10, 2015  •  Leave a Comment

Photo: US Navy 140123-N-HD510-024Photo: US Navy 140123-N-HD510-024Photo: US Navy

It has been one year since my visit to the USS Carl Vinson. During my preparation for this embark, I researched the experiences of other DV participants by reading their online posts and even emailing several people to ask questions about how best to prepare and find out their thoughts on their experiences. During this research, I found a post by a DV group from 2010 who reflected on their experiences one year later. I contacted one of the members of this group and asked if it would be OK if my own group mirrored their post with the same Q&A and received enthusiastic agreement. My thanks to Christopher Carfi and Rob DeRobertis. I proposed to collect our thoughts in a Q&A format, however, not every member was able to provide feedback or in the requested format. The most interesting aspect of this exercise was that there are no negative comments about the experience from my group or any other that I can find. The DV participants are overwhelmingly positive in their view of the US Navy and the impressive men and women who serve our nation.  Read on to hear our thoughts.

On January 22-23, 2014, 15 writers, bloggers, and media executives participated in the US Navy Distinguished Visitors (DV) program on-board the USS Carl Vinson which was preparing for a tour of duty in the Middle East.  This experience had a significant impact on everyone’s life in my DV group.
Photo: US Navy 140123-N-HD510-003Photo: US Navy 140123-N-HD510-003Photo: US Navy
Photo: US Navy

DV Group: Peg Fitzpatrick, Analisa Farias, Diana Weynand, Nick Turner, Steve Broback, Jeremy Epstein, Bill Wohl, Steven Bustin, Rocky Barbanica, Christian Rahl, Kim Merrill, Brett Murray, Ian Sobieski, Don Levy, Phil Giordano (Capt. W. Slaughter) (MIA:Susan Katz Keating)


These are their reflections one year later...


Jeremy Epstein: How the Vinson Changed My Vision

The former CEO of Intel, Andy Grove, coined a term known as the “strategic inflection point.”  It’s a point at which your life takes a turn and, after that, you are never the same person. Businesses face these moments, as do nations, and, of course, so do individuals. Marriage, death of a loved one, the birth of a child are among the most obvious.

While I knew that my visit to the Vinson would be an exciting adventure, going into it, I had no premonition that it would rank up there with the other major strategic inflection points of my life. Yet that is precisely what happened.

I had always been generally pro-military, the Vinson accelerated that. Not just in terms of the appreciation of the service and commitment on the part of the individuals who make up the armed forces, but also in terms of the operational excellence and discipline required to make the organization run. What really touched me were the human stories…of people who had come from very troubled backgrounds and found skills, training, confidence, and accountability through the Navy.  Like many, I don’t like paying taxes, but the story of a young gunnery mate who left gang-ridden LA at the advice of his aunt and talked of his transformation from boy to man, was a story of government ROI, the likes of which I had never seen before.

On a national level and as an American, I was proud, but that wasn’t the end of it.

 As growing professional and a leader of a team, my personal theme on the trip was to garner the advice of Naval leaders (from the Admiral all the way down) on what makes an effective leader.  The answer was uniform and consistent: Commander’s Intent.  I’ve adopted that practice and it has not only empowered but improved the performance of my organization in the year since.

There are so many memories. The flights to and from the ship, which I remember every time I put on my Vinson jacket replete with the “1 trap” patch sewed on to it; the technology; the treatment we received from each and every one of the sailors, that it could well be a book. I did, after all, write about 15 blog posts on the topic and, to this day, the profile picture on my page shows a panorama of the Vinson’s deck.

Still, it’s the life lessons that I cherish the most. About America’s role in the world and how I can be a more effective leader (at any level) that have impacted me the most.

I am forever grateful to the US Navy, the sailors of the USS Vinson and Mr. Dennis Hall for the opportunity and I cherish the connections and friendships I made with my fellow visitors.

Anchors Aweigh!


Q: What are the most lasting memories and impressions from the trip?

Brett Murray: There are the obvious memories… Arrival, a bit of disorientation on how it would all go, meeting my fellow embarkees, the briefing and trip out, the sights-sounds-smells of standing on the flight deck, up in the bridge watching operations at night, life in the stateroom, meeting the people and captain, the trip back.  All are still very vivid for me a year later. My major lasting impression really revolves around the people in the Navy and those serving on the USS Carl Vinson.  I was blown away by the quality of people – their intelligence, dedication, integrity and thoughtfulness.  In the private sector you experience a range of people from AMAZING to “who hired you?”  On the Vinson everyone seemed remarkably dialed in, laser focused, completely on top of their job, and with that spark in their eye.  I never would have guessed that such a concentration of excellent people was out there overseeing the safety of the United States.  Now if we could only get that same concentration in the private sector…  J

Steven Bustin: On a broad scale, the men and women who serve aboard the Carl Vinson.  Regardless of rank I found them to be friendly, dedicated, optimistic and professional.  On a more personal basis, it was the Trap and Cat!  The Trap landing was amazing and when that rear ramp of the Greyhound opened up it was an opening to another world.  The Trap was only exceeded by the Cat off the ship.  I felt like the classic cartoon scene where the character's body moves but the extended eyeballs linger!  What a blast!

Diana Weynand: So many wonderful memories… How remarkable it was to see so many young sailors doing such important work for our country. Wow. How gracious the Captain and other officers were to the crew. How respectful everyone was, and how much that helped the success of every mission. And of course, bonding with my social media co-hearts. It was an experience to treasure for a lifetime.

Christian Rahl: Hands down the sheer magnitude that an aircraft carrier represents.  The amount of work, logistics, and scale required to operate an aircraft carrier far exceeded any preconceived notions. Also the tailhook landing followed by the catapult takeoff were obviously very thrilling.  It was a great introduction to the power and a summary of the magnitude that is an Aircraft carrier.

Rocky Barbanica: The Jets - Just awesome power. The catapult system .. Well, First and FOREMOST, the arrested landing and the Catapult T/O - without a doubt - PARAMOUNT :-)  I SO wanna do that again... and again ... and again :-D

Don Levy: The most lasting memory is the quality of the people who I met; from the captain to the newest enlisted person.

Ian Sobieski: How small the Vinson was. Might sound like a surprise because its a huge ship by any standard; a thousand feet long with a crew of a small town. But 150 miles off the California coast its huge 4 acres are a speck compared to all that water. And I imagined how small it truly must feel 150 miles off a hostile shore.

Steve Broback: On almost a daily basis I think of an experience I had onboard the Carl Vinson. One big thing that stands out for me is that (not unlike landing on the moon) is the amazing things that can be achieved by teams who pull together. When you combine state-of-the-art technology and a group of consummate professionals managing it, a mind-boggling result is possible.

Phil Giordano: The crew impressed me on so many levels. I saw bright, dedicated, young men and women working long hours with very little privacy or luxuries that civilians take for granted, doing important work in service to our nation; defending our freedom and protecting my family and yours. I observed amazing teamwork in harsh and dangerous conditions and was made very much aware that every single person I saw on board was a volunteer – all heroes in my eyes. The planes, the ship and the technology were all impressive, but none of that matters without the people who maintain, support and utilize it all. I was also impressed with the Navy’s approach in providing this experience to us. The lack of censorship and the encouragement to form and voice our own opinions about everything we saw and heard.

I’m amazed at how much this experience affected me, all in very positive ways. The glimpse at life aboard an aircraft carrier: the hard working men and women who serve on board, the connections I made with the crew, the visceral, exciting, dangerous places, the necessary yet tedious “groundhog day” that is training, the long hours with little privacy endured by the crew, the industrial atmosphere of the ship, the noise, the smell of jet fuel on the flight deck.


Q: Did the trip change your views of the military?

Brett Murray: Absolutely.  I always had great respect for the military (both my grandfathers served in WWII), but until you see it all in motion up close you can’t understand what an almost insane logistical machine it is.  The learnings, planning, experiences that have combined over time to make it all possible are impossible to grasp.  Moving tons of industrial grade equipment and explosives in a synchronized dance day after day on a moving mobile platform is incomprehensible at first glance.  That said, it’s extremely obvious how powerful it is, why it gives us a competitive advantage in the world, and also why it demands the level of investment it requires.  None of that is possible to grasp from an armchair position, you have to get amongst it.

Steven Bustin: While I am far more knowledgeable about the military than the average civilian, it did indeed, in a most positive manner.  As stated above, I was impressed with the crew and in awe of the amount and degree of work they perform on a daily basis, the sacrifices they (and their families) make.

Diana Weynand: Yes. With this up close and personal look, the military looked less like an unfeeling machine, and became a living, breathing entity built of very caring individuals, some from my home town. I also gained a respect for the hierarchy of command on board. How important it was to follow orders. Why that is so necessary.

Christian Rahl: No it did not, but it did further reinforce the importance of our military has on our country and around the world.  Additionally the military not only provides an outlet for employment but also a huge motivating force to the sailors and soldiers.  I truly second guessed my choice on turning down the Coast Guard Academy for the civilian world.

Rocky Barbanica: Not, not really - I've always supported and been impressed by our military - I just thought is was THAT MUCH COOLER after being with them and on that ship - truly a thrill that's going to be hard to beat - but I'll try ;-)

Don Levy: The trip absolutely changed my views.  I have always appreciated the role of the military but did not fully understand how the men and women in the service conduct themselves and their missions.  It was incredibly eye-opening and gave me tremendous respect for the men and women who serve.

Ian Sobieski: Nope, reinforced them.

Steve Broback: Yes and no. It amplified my pre-existing (favorable) bias toward the remarkable work these brave men and women do, but must say it increased my respect for what a political economy (vs a market economy) can achieve. Despite the recent high-profile failures (Web site launches etc.) the government can and does run extremely complicated/complex systems with great success.

Phil Giordano: I’ve always supported the military (my dad served in the Army before I was born) and at one time seriously considered entering into service myself, so I can’t say that this experience necessarily changed my views but it definitely enhanced it for the better. This experience gave me more of a personal connection and replaced uniforms of those who serve with names and faces. It also strongly reinforced and expanded my understanding of the role of the Navy in particular and the need for a strong military.


Q: Since the trip were you in contact with sailors whom you met on this trip?

Brett Murray: Alas, no I haven’t been.  I follow the ship and some of the key people on social media, and have been carefully watching their current mission as well.  Naturally I have an attachment to the ship and crew at this point!

Steven Bustin: Not with any specific sailor but with the PA officer in regards to ideas I had on reaching out to the sailors.

Diana Weynand: Yes, a few.

Christian Rahl: I am not.

Rocky Barbanica: A couple times - I exchanged thoughts and such but it fell away... sadly- Life has a way of commanding attention...

Don Levy: I have not.

Ian Sobieski: (no response)

Steve Broback: Sadly no. My reticence is significantly guilt-driven. They have so little time to themselves, I’d hate to be a distraction.

Phil Giordano: Yes. I’ve corresponded with a number of crew members. I traded a number of emails with one of the PAO escorts ENS Rob Bell as well as with Vinson Media Center leader, Senior Chief Monica Hopper. I also received an email from AECS Aldrin Ledwidge with whom I shared breakfast on the second day of my embark. Aldrin wrote me a very eloquent email after he read my blog post and I was very grateful for his kind words and the opportunity he afforded me to get acquainted while on the Vinson. I have also kept in touch with PAO LCDR Kyle Raines via twitter and also via email. LCDR Raines sent me an email very recently while deployed with the Vinson in the Middle East in support of Operation Inherent Resolve which brings the fight to ISIS. I’ve also corresponded with some family members of the Vinson crew who saw my blog post and photography galleries. I’m proud to say that I’ve made a real connection with the father of one of the Vinson pilots too. We’ve shared a lot of personal information and built a friendship and I plan to continue our correspondence and hopefully meet in person someday. Right now I’m praying for the safe return of all aboard the Vinson on their current deployment. My embark has given me a very personal connection with the Vinson crew for which I’m deeply grateful. I never expected that the personal connection and ongoing correspondence with the crew and families would have been the most rewarding aspect of my visit to an aircraft carrier, but it is.


Q: What was the coolest thing you saw on the ship?

Brett Murray: While a lot of the first impressions blew my mind – seeing an F-18 launch and trap up close, going in the hanger, seeing the armory, etc – however, night operations from the bridge is the one amazing moment that sticks with me.  The complex dance that happens onboard, but all happening in the dark with many of the pilots in training mode, and no one getting hurt, never mind killed – truly spectacular.

Steven Bustin: Night flight operations.  The compelling visuals and the skill of the pilots...about the coolest thing I have ever witnessed.

Diana Weynand: Hornet landings - tail hooks - camaraderie - pride of sailors doing a job well done.

Christian Rahl: I would actually have to list two items that impressed me about the ship.  The first one actually was within the store on the ship.  There was one hatch in the middle of the store which stood right above the reactor.  The other was learning that very little communication occurs between the jets overhead and the jets coming down to land on the ship.

Rocky Barbanica: Wow - that's hard to just pick one ... I think it's seeing my face being left on the deck as the COD slingshot off the bow :-) -  The coolest thing other than the power of machines, engines, bombs ... Is the synchronized cadence of ongoing ops - Just a wonderful choreograph of teamwork...  bad ass !

Don Levy: I’m in between the flight deck and meals.  I think I will go with the flight deck!

Ian Sobieski: The bioluminesensce in the wake of the ship at midnight with f-18s landing overhead...

Steve Broback: My first instinct is to say it would have to be the night landings. Those afterburners at full throttle were SO cool.

Phil Giordano: I’m a huge aviation fan so observing flight operations on the flight deck was definitely the coolest thing I saw on the ship. It was amazing to stand so close to F-18s as they took off and landed. Watching the teamwork of the sailors on the flight deck was also incredible. While the ship, aircraft and weapons are the muscle and bone, it is very clear that the crew are the heart and soul.


Q: What was the least cool thing about the ship?

Brett Murray: Not sure how to answer this since so much was amazing and inspiring.  I suppose the claustrophobic nature of life below deck was really hard to get used to, and it was obvious to me how adapting to that environment for the long term would be a serious challenge.  The quality of the bathrooms was a bit shocking too, not so much because I demand better for myself, but I would hope we’d do better by our service men.  Given there are multi-million dollar planes and missiles all around, you would think we’d invest a little more in the comfort and morale of those driving them.

Steven Bustin: If I have to pick, the Head.  A Head is a Head is a Head.  Especially at 0300 hours.  

Diana Weynand: We had it pretty good in the VIP quarters. But I think it would be really tough living in such tight quarters for the enlisted folks.

Christian Rahl: The showers. It felt like boy scout camp all over again.

Rocky Barbanica: Well... hmmmm - probably the cramped quarters they have to live in...  I bet it's the Ritz compared to a submarine... but, dang - that would suck.  No real privacy AT ALL ... that would bug the heck out of me - That said, I GET IT though.

Don Levy: That we had to leave.

Ian Sobieski: Not a thing....

Steve Broback: Our “distinguished visitor” quarters were quite comfortable. College dorm-room-esque. But least cool was thinking about the cramped/communal quarters that the enlisted guys share for many months in a row. The lack of space and privacy must be one of the least attractive aspects of life at sea. Also, I have to say I am very spoiled by my bathroom (and big tub) at home.

Phil Giordano: The Head. As Distinguished Visitors we were treated to accommodations that were quite luxurious by comparison to the bulk of the crew, but the bathroom was not so cool. No complaints and I never expected a cruise ship experience…just sayin’…


Q: Were the sailors and aviators open?

Brett Murray: Absolutely.  Thoughtful in their responses, but not in a guarded way, and very open and candid.

Steven Bustin: Impressively so.  I can imagine that we, at times, had to be in the way of them quickly moving about the ship doing their jobs, but each and every one made way for us, smiled, greeted us and responded thoroughly and often with great humor to all of our questions.

Diana Weynand: They seemed to be completely open - to the degree that they were allowed to share their knowledge and protocol. And they all seemed very eager to share their stories.

Christian Rahl: By the end of the trip I felt like I answered more of the sailors questions then I asked of them. I was pleasantly surprised by this fact as it showed these sailors want to learn. However whenever I had a question I could always expect the honest, sometimes hilarious, answer to my questions.

Rocky Barbanica: Most  were - Had a full spectrum of impressions - Some seemed annoyed, some were SUPER STOKED about us being there - or putting on a good act :-) Some simply remained focused 

Don Levy: The soldiers and sailors were incredibly open, which is what made all the difference.

Ian Sobieski: Very

Steve Broback: Absolutely. Few questions or locations were off-limits.

Phil Giordano: The sailors were all very honest, candid, and willing to share information and answer questions. Every sailor I spoke with was impressively articulate and polite.


Q: Would you support the decision of someone to join the Navy?

Brett Murray: Part of what was so amazing, was coming to understand how tough the lifestyle is.  Away for months and months on end.  Working very long shifts.  Tight quarters with no privacy.  High standards of performance.  It’s not a life that everyone can handle, and as a result joining the Navy should be a deeply considered decision.  That said, if you are up for the challenge you’d be surrounded by great people, amazing machinery, and an inspirational cause.

Steven Bustin: Would I?!  Heck, I would join myself this instant if they allowed me!

Diana Weynand: Of course it depends on the person and where they are in life and their expectations. But for some, it would be an amazing opportunity to grow, learn career skills, be involved, and develop a sense of dedication to excellence.

Christian Rahl: Yes and no.  Joining the navy should not be an easy choice nor a last ditch effort.  Joining the navy has some very serious challenges, but the rewards and experiences from the navy cannot be matched.

Rocky Barbanica: Absolutely - IF they weren't doing it out of desperation... Well... I guess I would even then - I'm certain you get out what you put in - opportunities seem endless - Extremely dangerous too ... but that's not a negative score - in short - YES, I would.

Don Levy: Yes.

Ian Sobieski: Yes

Steve Broback: Years ago I did try to talk my nephew out of joining the Navy, because he was on a trajectory to become a SEAL and given the risk, I selfishly wanted to not expose our family to a devastating loss. He did become a SEAL and ultimately won a bronze star with valor for his role in a deadly firefight, and is now a Navy surgeon. I’m very glad (now) that he did not listen to me. Naturally, it would depend on the individual — but in general I think the military needs good people and many people can gain terrific life skills from their military experience.

Phil Giordano: Yes, with no reservations as long as they fully understood what a tour of service involves and they and their family are ready for the commitment and sacrifice.


Q: Was the embark an effective way for the Navy to get its message out?

Brett Murray: Absolutely.  Carefully qualifying the participants for social reach and industry influence, investing time in helping them understand what we’re pouring our national resources into, and making it clear the security we get in return, are all things that can’t be conveyed remotely.

Steven Bustin: I believe so.  Our embark group was made up of educated, successful and widely connected individuals.  Everyone was capable of spreading the word to a large network of people in various manners.  And each of us did.

Diana Weynand: I think so. I talk about my own experience on the USS Vinson quite often. I find people are very interested in knowing what goes on at that level of operation. Makes the military less mysterious. And it’s been interesting following the movements of the ship. It was nice to know that the sailors took some time during the holidays in Danai. I still feel a connection to the ship and the people on it.

Christian Rahl: Yes it is!

Rocky Barbanica: Without question... absolutely.  They have a great PR side to them and an embark, LIKE OURS,  just REALLY BRINGS IT ON HOME

Don Levy: Yes. I cannot begin to tell you how many times since the embark I have referenced the trip and my experience.  I think it may have even more impact because people don’t necessarily think of me in the context of the Navy or the military. When I say something positive, they know that I am speaking of an honest impressive and not repeating some entrenched position.  In other words, I am maybe a little bit of a fresh voice and because of that, maybe some new people listen, think or consider. 

Ian Sobieski: Yes

Steve Broback: My superficial notion is a big YES. What I don’t have a handle on is the total universe of costs and benefits, so can’t speak definitively. I was already fairly evangelical about the Navy so don’t know if my presence moved the needle at all.

Phil Giordano: Yes! To expose a bunch of civilians to life aboard a working carrier and then let them tell everyone their uncensored story is quite simply brilliant. Bravo Zulu! It is what I love about America and I wish every American could experience an embark first hand to truly understand and appreciate those who serve our country.


Q: Was there anything you were unable to do while aboard that you wish you could have done?

Brett Murray: Not really.  Maybe sleep more.  ;-)

Steven Bustin: Sure, I wanted to see the nuclear reactors and fire a few missiles, and even do a Cat and Trap on an F16 SuperHornet!  But alas, I understand why that fantasy was not going to happen.

Diana Weynand: Talk to more people. Shoot more video. But that was just because we were always on the go. Be a fly on the wall some times - without having people talk to us or perform for us.

Christian Rahl: I think having a little more time to explore or follow an individuals duty would have been interesting. We had very little time to sit down and chat with each sailor as they were trying to give us a brief and moved along.

Rocky Barbanica: Oh hell yeah!! Fly in a jet Launch and Trap...  Launch a cruise missile - fire the 20mm cannon... the list goes ON AND ON ... :-)

Don Levy: Not really. 

Ian Sobieski: Nope.

Steve Broback: One thing. Bin Laden was buried at sea on the Carl Vinson. I wanted to stand in the spot where he met his watery grave. Due to aircraft placement, we could not make a formal trip to the specific location. Might have been there by accident/randomly though.

Phil Giordano: Fly in an F-18; launch my airstrike...Seriously, I would have liked to talk with more sailors and at greater length. Time went by so fast and I just wish I had more of it.


Q: Did you post to your social media blogs, podcasts, etc. about the trip? Please provide links if you did. 

Brett Murray: I did.  My primary blog post was:


Steven Bustin: Yes.²-butare-we-asking-too-much-of-the-us-navy/


Diana Weynand: Yes. I did a few blogs and posted on my Facebook page. Here are links to my blogs:

Christian Rahl: I had two posts. One is internal to cisco only so it cannot be accessed from the outside.  The other is on my personal blog


Rocky Barbanica: I posted on my FB page - had dozens of private conversations - Had a couple MOVIE nights at The Barbanica residence :-)   Sad thing was - PHIL did SUCH an amazing job - I mainly shared YOUR link.

Don Levy: Yes.  My biggest posts were on Facebook. I also wrote and had published a letter to the editor

Ian Sobieski: Private newsletter to my 200 person membership.

Steve Broback: Yes:

Phil Giordano: Yes. I intended to make multiple posts that all combined to tell the story of the embark but once I got it all down, I made one very long and epic blog post. I also posted a gallery of photographs and video. I’ve also posted on Google+ and continue posting on Twitter.


Q: Did you participate in any traditional media reporting on your embark?

Brett Murray: Not formally.  I’ve spoken to dozens (if not more) of friends who are reporters informally about the experience.  I did a presentation in front of about 500 people at NVIDIA (my former employer) headquarters in Santa Clara, California as well.  Naturally, I continue to share my experiences in any and all forms that I think people want to hear it in.

Diana Weynand: No. I would still like to edit together some video I shot.

Christian Rahl: I did not. I am not a reporter nor a media representative.  I tried to experience the trip from an engineers positions.  What can I learn from the navy that could be applied to the civilian world.

Rocky Barbanica: No, unfortunately.  I did send a couple links to our local news channels to see if they were interested in hearing more but nothing ever really developed... THEIR LOSS....

Don Levy: I wrote a letter to the Editor for my local paper.

Ian Sobieski: (no response)

Steve Broback: No.

Phil Giordano: No, although I did make a number of multimedia presentations to large groups at my employer, MITRE, and at a local photography club. I also continue to share my experience with anyone who will listen.


Q: Would you be willing with guidance and consultation to lead a social media embark?

Brett Murray: Absolutely!  Sign me up!

Steven Bustin: I would love to do so.  Where do I sign up?

Diana Weynand: Absolutely. I would love the opportunity to do that. Where do I sign up?

Christian Rahl: Yes I would! I would absolutely enjoy providing the same experience I had to others!

Rocky Barbanica: Wow - great question - YES - I would have to make sure I was well trained, deep dive on a lot of the REGULAR stuff so the story would be complete and I wouldn't leave holes - gaps - that stuff... BUT, HECK YEAH !

Don Levy: Yes.

Ian Sobieski: Yes

Steve Broback: Absolutely.

Phil Giordano: Hell YES!


Q: Since your trip what has happened to you in your life/career i.e. where are you now?

Brett Murray: I have since left my role heading up Global Marketing Campaigns at NVIDIA and am now Vice President of Marketing at a pre-IPO company called View, Inc. in Silicon Valley.  View has raised over $400 million and makes architectural “dynamic” glass, a type of smart glass for buildings that changes tint levels intelligently in reaction to weather conditions outside, and how people are using the building inside. You can check us out at

Steven Bustin: My life and career have stayed on the same track for the most part.  However, I now have many jealous friends!  Seriously, I have met people and had conversations that never would have occurred if I had not been on this embark.  I have given multiple presentations to organizations that in turn have led to other professional and personal opportunities for me.  And quite frankly, people are impressed for their own reasons and that often affects the dynamics of conversations.  As it has with the writing of my book, the embark experience had migrated to other areas of my life in ways I never anticipated, all positive.  I wil forever be grateful to Dennis Hall and the United States Navy for an impactful and life changing experience.

Diana Weynand: At the time of the embark, I was just stepping away from my primary career as a video consultant, training and author of video editing books. I took a turn back toward my first career, as a musician and singer-songwriter. Over the past year, I produced music shows, wrote new material, placed a holiday song onto a TV show, and completed my goal of performing 100 gigs. This year, I’ve stepped into the role of President of a non-profit organization called Earth Law Center, which helps create laws that support the rights of nature. And I’ve just sent a new revision of my book, How Video Works, off to the publishers for a release date in June.

Christian Rahl: I changed roles into a new area of Cisco doing the same basic job but in a new technology.  However the Navy embark has started me along the path of trying to change my career to more of consulting / leadership / project role.  This was all from observing how much your chiefs and officers enjoyed their jobs.  The embark helped me reinforce that I truly enjoy leadership and projects. I looking forward to starting my MBA program at NCSTATE in the coming months.

Rocky Barbanica: Still truckin' - Always a few high drama days/events per month, balanced with pure awesomeness and day to day grind - I'm still loving life -Still Ecstatically happily married, Being Dad ROCKS --- The job still kicks butt too !

Don Levy: The fledgling companies that I was advising are starting to get some traction, which is exciting.  My older son graduated from college and just moved to NY.

Ian Sobieski: Same place. Running Band of Angels.

Steve Broback: Hosting the conference and sessions and parties at San Diego Comic Con.

Phil Giordano: I’m still working as a Systems Engineer at MITRE in support of the public interest. I’m also continuing to explore my interest in photography and post new images regularly to my web site at


Blog Posts:

Rocky Barbanica


Steve Broback


Steven Bustin

Jeremy Epstein

 Here’s my first post on our adventure together

 Here’s my next one…on the value of the DV program

 Lessons from an aircraft carrier on Quality Control


Life on the Carrier: Big and Small

Would love your thoughts on this one.

Clarity of Communication-Lessons on Management from the USS Carl Vinson


On Nicknames and Call Signs for Naval Aviators


Analisa Farias


Peg Fitzpatrick

Night and Day: My Life vs. Life in the Navy

My article is live on Huffington Post


Phil Giordano

"How The US Navy Had Me Arrested And Shot"

24 Hours Aboard the USS Carl Vinson - Life Aboard A Warship From A Civilian's Perspective

Photo Gallery: USS Carl Vinson Embark:


Susan Katz Keating


Don Levy

While I prepare some more stories, my original post appears in The Thousand Oaks Acorn, our local paper that really does get read by everyone in this Los Angeles Suburb.  It has a verified circulation of about 40,000.

Kim Merrill

Pre-embark Post:


Brett Murray


Christian Rahl

This video was quick to get up as it required 0 editing.


Ian Sobieski

Subject: Check out "Somewhere in the Arabian Sea" from This American Life

Check out this episode of This American Life,"Somewhere in the Arabian Sea"

"Life aboard the USS John C. Stennis, an aircraft carrier in the Arabian Sea that's supporting bombing missions over Afghanistan as part of Operation Enduring Freedom. Only a few dozen people on board actually fly F-18s and F-14s. It takes the rest of the crew—over 5,000 people—to keep them in the air."


Nick Turner


Diana Weynand


Bill Wohl

Facebook album with captions:



My embarking to and from the USS Carl Vinson (CVN70) aircraft carrier was made possible via my nomination by Dennis Hall, founder of Avere Group LLC (, through collaborative referral to him by Guy Kawasaki ( and through recommendation for nomination by my good friend, Robert DeRobertis ( Dennis Hall initially submitted my nomination to the Public Affairs Officer of the US Navy’s Third Fleet. The Public Affairs Officer then referred my nomination to the Office of Public Affairs, Commander, US Pacific Fleet. The US Pacific Fleet selected me for the Distinguished Visitors Program, inviting me to embark.

I also want to thank my wife and daughter for their amazing support and encouragement. Pam and Jessie, you are my inspiration.


Thank you to the U.S. Navy and the crew of the USS Carl Vinson for hosting me. You have my deepest gratitude for your service and sacrifice.

"Integrity, Honor, and Commitment to Excellence"


To all the men and women who serve our country - Thank You For Your Service!

© 2014 Philip Giordano© 2014 Philip GiordanoSocial Media Links


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