USS PHILIPPINE SEA, At Sea, December 9, 2013 (NNS) – Boot camp can humble anyone. The college graduate and the high school slacker get treated just the same. Each new arrival wears the same clothes and has the same name, recruit. While most would say this training process is necessary, few would call it fun. It is designed to build confidence, resolve and instill the foundation of the Navy’s traditions. However, not many people would sign up to go there twice. But there are some who love a challenge.
Information Systems Technician 1st Class Tracey Chastine is one of those people. Currently she serves as the information assurance manager and leading petty officer for radio aboard USS Philippine Sea (CG 58). It is her latest assignment in a 14-year career that is about to go full-circle.
She just found out she is going back to boot camp to serve as a recruit division commander (RDC) at Recruit Training Command (RTC) in Great Lakes, Ill.
“I probably shouldn’t be this excited,” said Chastine. “When I tell people I’m going back to be an RDC they say, ‘Whoa, OK, good luck with that,’ And that just makes me want to do it even more.”
She has served on five ships and been pulled away from her husband and two sons for two deployments and three individual augmentee assignments to Indonesia, Djibouti and Afghanistan. Then there are the countless other training exercises. Week-long underway and month-long cruises fill the spaces in between. So when it came time to pick new orders, an easy shore duty assignment was an obvious first choice. Maybe Hawaii or San Diego with beaches and sun.
The reward Chastine wants though is not spending weekends sipping umbrella-topped drinks on some beach. Her payoff comes in another form, pushing boots in Great Lakes. She will be on the other side of the knife-edge this time around, but she will still be on the same schedule as the recruits. Back to daily inspections, constant physical training, early mornings and late nights, seven days a week. And while recruits stay for eight weeks, she will be there for three years; she remains undeterred.
“I feel like at this point in my career I have done the fleet,” said Chastine. “I want to take what I’ve experienced, everything that I’ve learned, how I was brought up in the Navy and the best way to give back is to go be an RDC.”
According to NAVADMIN 085/13, initial orders to RTC are to RDC “C” School via a three-week intermediate stop at a Navy Instructor Training Course to obtain the 9502 (Military Training Specialist) Navy Enlisted Classification. Candidates must then pass RDC “C” School, which is a 13-week training course that provides prospective RDCs with the skills, knowledge, and physical readiness to succeed as an RDC.”
“Its a tough billet, said Chief Electricians Mate Odely Aime,” who was an RDC for three-and-a-half years. “Its knowing that you have a bunch of new recruits that you have to train to become new Sailors. Your output, the way you train them, is what you are going to produce in the Navy and that is the hardest part.”
Ships Serviceman Seaman Tyesha Pointer said she likes that Chastine is a woman who takes the lead and shows authority. Pointer wanted a mentor who would set the example and who would challenge her. She wanted to know there was someone who cares about what she is doing. She saw that in Chastine. That’s why she chose Chastine to be her mentor and that’s why she is sure she will make a great RDC.
“Shes a wonderful person,” said Pointer. “She’s a character. She’ll give you a good laugh after she yells at you.”
“I hope to bring a little bit of the old school, and learn a little bit of the new school and blend it together,” said Chastine. “Mainly, have them be able to look at me and say, You know what, it can be done. I made it on my own and I’m independent. It can be done regardless of where you are coming from. To have a woman, African-American, standing in front of them successful; I think that right there will be enough for a lot of them to see if she can do it, I can do it too.”
By all accounts going back to boot camp to be an RDC is even more challenging than arriving there as a recruit. Some people say the bigger the challenge the bigger the reward. For Chastine, the challenge is the reward.
For more news from USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77), visit www.navy.mil/local/cvn77/.