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DINFOS takes a different approach to sharing history, traditions

By Chief Mass Communication Specialist Kristina Moore Fort George G. Meade

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This year Navy instructors and students at the Defense Information School celebrated the Navy’s birthday a little differently.

A week-long celebration began by unveiling a display case and mural commemorating the Navy’s 242-year history. Featuring donations accumulated over several years, it includes enlisted “crackerjacks” complete with old piping and buttons, dungarees, and unit identification marks from some of the commands where DINFOS Sailors, both past and present, have been stationed.

Celebratory events throughout the week introduced the joint school to mock “bull’s eyes,” the large photoluminescent plaques Sailors use to mark compartments and areas aboard ships; blue and gold paper streamers representing securing for sea; and a physical training session designed to show DINFOS personnel various evolutions aboard a ship, like heaving lines.

“I am always impressed with the scope and creativity of Navy squidlets,” said Army Col. Martin Downie, the commandant of DINFOS, using a term borrowed from a senior chief petty officer he worked with when he first assumed command at DINFOS. “The Navy does it with a certain panache that’s unmatched by the other services.”

Events also included a “flash mob” of Sailors singing Anchors Aweigh. More than 150 Sailors stretched across the command’s atrium, symbolizing generations of naval service – ranging from 18-year old new accessions recently reporting from boot camp to seasoned retired Sailors, commonly referred to as “old salts.”

The celebration week culminated Oct. 13, 2017, with a group photo in front of DINFOS, complete with a live goat standing as the Navy mascot, followed by the Navy Birthday ceremony.

The guest speaker, Master Chief Mass Communication Specialist Jon McMillan, the senior enlisted adviser to the Navy’s Chief of Information, spoke about how Navy Sailors, “think different.”

“Creativity, design and story are natural components of our history and heritage,” he said. “Our Navy history has so many amazing stories of those who dared to think different. … We are not afraid to innovate or try something new.”

In an effort to have the feeling of being on a ship getting underway, DINFOS Sailors turned the student-filled hall near the ceremony into a ceremonial quarterdeck, allowing DINFOS staff, faculty and its guests to experience “coming aboard” a ship.

Chief Mass Communication Specialist Chad Runge assumed the watch as the officer of the deck in order to call “DINFOS, Arriving,” “First call to colors” and many other daily calls usually reserved for shipboard operations.

“It's not every day that USS DINFOS sets sail,” said Runge, “but it was great being able to get her underway this morning. It allowed the school's Soldiers and Airmen an opportunity to experience Navy life and, also, to get a little salt on their uniforms.”

The week highlighting Navy history and tradition allowed DINFOS Sailors a different way to share experiences of being a Sailor with their fellow DINFOS staff and faculty members.

“It’s especially important at the schoolhouse,” said Downie. “It is vital to ensure history and tradition are honored and kept vibrant for the next generation. The spirit of our predecessors has to be passed on.”

Downie said it’s incumbent on the current cadre members to add their own flavor and special contribution to that history because they are part of it.

Closing out his comments during the ceremony, McMillan left the guests a charge.

“The challenge for each of you now is to embrace your role and keep learning to become a master of your craft,” McMillan said. “So, you can be the crazy one, the round beg in the square hole, the one who sees things differently.”

Happy birthday, Navy! #242Navybday #DINFOSandProud.