i .. *' .
Navy Senior Chief Petty Officer
JIG Senior Enlisted Advisor
Advancementis crucialintoday's military.
Do not let advancement requirements turn
into career ending obstacles. I received advice
from my father, who was a Seabee, a Senior
Chief, a Warrant and Commissioned Officer.
He advised, "Your time in the service will
be like running through an obstacle course.
Overcome all obstacles, the easy way or the
I looked up the definition of obstacle
course in the dictionary. It is defined
as a military training course filled with
obstacles such as hurdles, fences, walls
and ditches that must be negotiated.
Broadly, it is a series of obstacles that must
be overcome. The definition illustrated
the series of challenges that we face in
advancing in today's military.
I advise all junior personnel to
complete advancement requirements as
soon as possible. This means studying
required courses and completing rate
enlisted performance qualifications.
One of the biggest obstacles is passing
the required correspondence courses.
Junior enlisted fail the end of course
test and are reluctant to study and
retake the test. This can be overcome
by monitoring their test scores,
encouraging, motivating and requiring
them to study and retake the test.
There is no shame in failing a test,
only in not completing the course.
Don't let initial failure of a test become
an obstacle to advancement. Myself
and most senior enlisted have initially
failed several end of course tests. We
continued to take the tests until we
passed the course.
Another obstacle to advancement
is completing enlisted performance
qualifications. Junior enlisted members
need to take the initiative to complete
these tasks and have a senior person
verify completion of the tasks. Monitor
subordinates' progress in completing these
requirements. Do not let them become
obstacles to advancement.
History has shown advancement is crucial
in today's military. During my father's time
,the day of the career Seaman ended in the
Navy. During my time, the day of the career
Third Class Petty Officer has ended in the
Coast Guard. With a new administration in
Washington and unknown challenges ahead,
advancement is even more important now,
then in the past. Q
Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class
Scott McBride re-enlists at
the Camp Delta flagpole, Feb.
6. JTF Guantanamo Bay photo
by Navy Petty Officer 1st Class
TROOPER-TO-TROOPER I FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 13, 2009
PAGE 2 1 THE WIRE
Army Staff Sgt.
JTF Guantanamo Public Affairs
Having electricity to power your coffee
pot in the morning is something many of us
may take for granted. Without electricity,
no doubt operations would be a challenge,
muchlike tryingto functionwithout that first
cup of caffeinated goodness. Fortunately,
through the work of many hands, both
military and civilian, the base power supply
meets the needs of its customers.
The Mobile Utilities Support Equipment
team, a Seabee detachment based out of
Port Hueneme, Calif., has spent the last
few weeks deployed here, methodically
reviewing maintenance records, conducting
annual generator maintenance and ensuring
the safety of the five generator units that
support the leeward and windward sides of
"The [Seabee operated] public works
department is overall responsible for the
day-to-day maintenance of the generators,"
said Navy Chief Petty Officer Brian Parker,
a construction electrician with the MUSE
team. "In most locations, though, local
contractors do the maintenance. Here, [the
Seabees] essentially have ownership of
the equipment but Burns and Roe does the
MUSE essentially works as a rental
company, Parker explained. They rent the
equipment to military and civilian contractors
and then follow up on the equipment annually
to ensure its proper care.
"The five generators, each 1,500
kilowatts, make up approximately one-
third of the Dower generation." said Navy
Petty Officer 2nd Class Jonathan Johnson,
a construction mechanic with the MUSE.
"They are connected to the power grid and
when these units are on, they supply [power
to] everything from the residential areas to
The generator is primarily used for back-
up power, but they run on a daily basis to
support the base during peak load.
"It's an ideal set up for the [generator]
units where they're used long-term. When
they come on, they run at a constant
[kilowatt]. They don't handle the load
swings," Johnson said. "We offer power
generation in places where it's more
cost efficient for the Navy. Our power
generation comes at about one-tenth of
the cost that a civilian contractor costs to
While the team inspects the generators,
preventative measures and safety are
"On an annual inspection, we're
looking for any future failures and
inspecting the preventative maintenance
that's done on a daily basis to make
sure the contractors are taking care of
the equipment [properly]," Johnson
said. "We do a lot of safety inspections
to make sure emergency shut downs
and protective relays are in operating
condition. These tests aren't usually
done throughout the year, so this is the
one time it's shut down and completely
torn apart to check everything."
The maintenance mission also
serves as a training opportunity for new
team members and provides time for
future detachment leaders to earn their
certification to lead their own team.
FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 13, 2009 I MISSION
THE WIRE I PAGE 3
Navy Cmdr. Jeffrey Hayhurst gives a history of the detainee camps and explains
the Joint Task Force mission during a tour arranged and scheduled by the Joint
Visitors Bureau, Feb. 10. JTF Guantanamo photos by Army Staff Sgt. Gretel
JTF Guantanamo Public Affairs
When people think about the detention
facilities at Joint Task Force Guantanamo,
the opinions and perceptions on the topic
vary greatly. To ensure that the public
is aware of the safe, humane, legal and
transparent care of the detainees, the Joint
Visitors Bureau makes it their mission to
provide that information.
The JVB's main mission is to support
the Joint Task Force in communicating with
the "outside world" and working to bring
distinguished visitors to the island so they
can see the and understand for themselves.
"Our mission is to escort distinguished
visitors to the island and ensure that they are
attended to," said Army Maj. Victor Perez,
deputy director of the JVB.
In preparing for DV visits to Guantanamo
Bay, the JVB works diligently setting up
tours around the base and in JTF facilities
as well as scheduling briefings with senior
leadership and fulfilling requests for visitors'
specific areas of interest.
"We do this all the time. This is second
nature to us," Perez said.
In addition to DV tours of the JTF
operating area, the JVB recently conducted
a bus tour for local high school students as
part of a community outreach.
"It was my first time doing a unique
tour like this," Perez said. "We need to let
them know what we do over at the detainee
facilities and fulfill their curiosity on the
When any DV group is scheduled to
come here, the JVB has to work with every
department within the JTF to ensure the
tour is successful and runs smoothly. One
department that is closely involved in all
tours is the Joint Detention Group, since
nearly all visitors are interested in the
mission of the detention facility.
"We work with the JVB almost weekly
and are involved in all the tours through
the camps," said Navy Commander Jeffrey
Hayhurst, Deputy Commander of the JDG.
"They are very well organized and the
JVB does a good job in having everything
arranged and prepared. It's a positive
MISSION I FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 13, 2009
PAGE 4 | THE WIRE
JTF Guantanamo Public Affairs
The average time a recreational scuba diver can safely
stay underwater is approximately 30 to 60 minutes. For some
divers, that is not enough time to observe and experience all
that the underwater world provides in at Guantanamo Bay. If
that is the case, one might consider the life of a Navy Seabee
Diver with U.S. Naval Underwater Construction Team One of
Little Creek, Va.
"This is an excellent area for diving," said Navy Petty
Officer 1st Class William Butcher of UCT 1. "You have a lot
of shallow water diving, low visibility diving and very clear,
deep water diving. It's a good training environment and the
water's so great that we can have a three-hour bottom time
without getting cold."
UCT 1 consists of approximately 60 to 65 personnel,
with 35 to 40 qualified Navy divers who specialize as basic
underwater construction technicians or first-class diver
underwater construction advanced technicians. They are
a component of the Naval Construction Force who apply
these skills to a variety of construction projects in the ocean
"We're in the Navy as a specialized part of the Seabees,"
Butcher said. "Regular Seabees do vertical construction on
land and we do underwater construction. Our area of expertise
is waterfront facilities. We can build, repair or destroy any
waterfront or deep ocean facility."
Their mission for the past two weeks here was to conduct
an elevated causeway site survey on the Leeward side, which
included rapid penetration tests to determine the stability of
the soil, the soil classification and its density. Na
"It's basically driving three-fourth inch rods into the earth, cor
below the surface of the water," Butcher said. "In order for the div
area where the elevated causeway is determined to be built, the
soil has to meet a certain criteria."
The elevated causeway can be imagined as a portable pier
where there is not a permanent pier available.
"Its professional term is an elevated causeway system modular,"
said Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Chris Hefner. "It's used for the
quick offload of cargo in-theater or wherever one is needed."
When the project first began, a side-scan sonar survey was
conducted to identify any large anomalies that might interfere
with the construction of the elevated causeway. Following was a
bathometric survey that provided a topographic map that showed
how deep the water was in the construction area.
"When we first arrived, the ferry had lost a rudder, but we were
able to recover it for them [using the side-scan sonar]," said Navy
Petty Officer 1st Class Christopher Munch, subject matter expert
on the bathometric and side-scan sonar equipment. "Finding it
saved an estimated cost of $10,000, so the [side-scan sonar] is
pretty useful in that."
Other equipment used for the project consisted of a BR-67 jack-
hammer used in the rapid penetration tests and the MK-21 dive
"[The divers] dove surface-supply where the air system is on top
of the boat where an umbilical is attached to the dive helmet that
feeds them the air," Butcher said. "We also have communications
[in the helmet] so we can talk back and forth to the divers. It's very
FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 13, 2009 I MISSION
vy Petty Officer 1t Class Michael Cleaves, independent duty
psman of the team, displays the MK-21 dive helmet that the Seabee
ers use in their dives to the bay floor of Guantanamo Bay.
important when you're using hydraulic power tools underwater."
The divers' uniform consisted simply of a T-shirt and shorts
along with the MK-21 dive helmet. They also wore weighted dive
boots with steel toes to protect the divers' feet and ensure they
remain firmly on the bottom during the rapid penetration tests.
"The water was really warm and there weren't many hydroids
or jellyfish to contend with," Butcher said. "With the amount of
time the divers spent in the water, they didn't get too cold or too
hot, so just diving in shorts and a T-shirt was ideal."
The results from the testing show that the soil in the construction
area is solid enough to install the elevated causeway. Despite the
team finishing this project, UCT 1 may return to work on other
"As you're riding the ferry to Leeward, to the left are some
concrete piles sticking up out of the water," Butcher said. "There's
talk of us coming back down to remove those and also do some
repairs to existing facilities in the water here. There's also a good
chance we'll be able to conduct our divers' training down here
"There's still a lot of work for us to do here," said Navy Chief
Petty Officer Dennis Bergman. "So now it looks like we got the
green light to start coming back down here. The base will be seeing
a lot more of us." O
THE WIRE I PAGE 5
JTF Guantanamo Public Affairs
Guantanamo Bay, when compared to most other military bases,
has had a rather robust Morale Welfare and Recreation department
for years. One of its major draws for well over a quarter century is
the professionally designed nine-hole golf course.
Golf itself is a simple game of hitting a small ball into a hole
with a set of specially designed clubs and putters. Each hole on a
course is assigned a par. That is the average strike score that the
course designers believe a skilled golfer needs to finish the hole.
Professional courses usually have a total par of 70 to 72.
The earliest known mention of golf is from 1452, when
Scotland's King James II officially banned the game, saying it
kept his subjects from needed archery practice. The first recorded
purchase of golf equipment was in 1502 by King James IV of
Scotland, after he lifted the ban and began to play. However, the
actual development of the game is continually debated among
historians. Most believe it began with Scottish shepherds hitting
stones into rabbit holes.
Yatera Seca, Guantanamo's golf course, northeast of Denich
Gym on Roosevelt Road, has a total par of 72. However, golf skill
and past experience are not needed to play a full 18-hole round
In mid 2008, MWR opened a new golf pro-shop, The Lateral
Hazard, at the entrance to the course and driving range. There,
military members can use clubs for free, get a full bucket of balls
for $1 to play or shoot on the 250-yard driving range, or rent a
cart to get around the course for $10 alone or $15 with a pair. For
civilians, club rental is $5.
"Well it's different, that's for sure," Navy Lt. Kevin Cronau
said, comparing Guantanamo's course to others he's played. "It's
challenging, but the rocks make it the challenging part. The hills
make it the hard part and the fun part."
Cronau, Joint Task Force Guantanamo's C-12 pilot and a golf
enthusiast of six years, hit the links with Air Force Capt. Kristol
Meyers, also of JTF air operations and a golfer for two years. Both
borrowed clubs from the pro-shop.
"They're actually great clubs for rentals," Cronau said.
"You can't complain when it's free," Meyers added. Cronau said
he has seen prices for a round of golf anywhere from $40 to $50 at
other military bases: Meyers said she has seen even higher.
"MWR is really good," Meyers said. "Here, it's great." 0
LOCAL SPORTS I FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 13, 2009
PAGE 6 1 THE WIRE
(Barely) Rollin' Stone
JTF Guantanamo Public Affairs
The exact start of what we call rock and
roll music will never be defined. By nature
it can't. This fluidity is what many people
love so much about music in the first place.
However, this draw also means that if a
story has this music as its backdrop, the
writers almost don't even have to try.
"Cadillac Records," written and directed
by Darnell Martin, takes a very abridged
look at one of if not the most important
labels in electric blues and rock and roll:
the Chicago-based Chess Records.
The label was the launching point
for music legends from Muddy Waters
to Chuck Berry to Howlin' Wolf. These
larger-than-life acts are now regarded as
some of the most important musicians in
America's history, and they all came from
the studios of Leonard Chess, portrayed by
Brody does fine as Chess, but these
biopics Hollywood loves so much lately
deserve better than 'fine.' Brody's Chess
comes across like he's not remotely
passionate about anything he's doing. Add
in how fast the story moves through the
back story for Chess and his family, and
you'll sometimes forget that he's a main
The film opens with a short back story
for Waters and Chess, but it's so short it
feels almost tacked on. It feels like only
five minutes in that Waters is recording in
Chess's studio. The film ends up paying for
its lack of detail.
Later in the film when people like
Howlin' Wolf (Eamonn Walker) and Etta
James (Beyonc6 Knowles) show up, the
movie starts to rely on Waters' and Chess's
supposedly established emotional clout.
However, since their beginnings were
so brushed over, Waters and Chess feel flat,
especially compared to Knowles' extremely
powerful showing as a drug-addicted and
hyper-independent Etta James.
It's obvious why Knowles was put on
the movie poster when she's not even in the
The music that is the film's center is what
makes "Cadillac Records" worth a passing
view. The setting, costumes and attitudes
all fit the time amazingly, but the mediocre
performances from the leads really run this
film into the ground.
However, if you're a fan of the era and
its influential music, you'll see it regardless
of what my review says which is exactly
what the movie executives hope. 0
1 hours, 49 minutes
JuNray WRIGHT @ buyou 6KNOWLES
FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 13, 2009 I MOVIE RECON
THE WIRE I PAGE 7
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JTF Guantanamo Public Affairs
Unaccompanied Troopers deployed to
Joint Task Force Guantanamo have a unique
opportunity to share their forward location
with their dependents, family members and
The U.S. Naval Station Guantanamo
Bay family member and guest visitation
policy allows those permanently stationed
and those deployed here the chance to
sponsor visitors to the base as outlined by
COMNAVBASE GTMO INSTRUCTION
Troopers who would like to take
advantage of this uncommon allowance
should begin by becoming familiar with the
family visitation information paper. This
paper and other helpful information on the
family visitation process can be found on the
JTF's Intranet in the "Resources" section.
Under "Joint Task Force Guantanamo
Services," choose "Visitor Process."
Once familiar with the visitor regulations
and restrictions, Troopers should complete
a Naval Station entry clearance request,
NAVSTAGTMO 4650/8, for each of their
visitors. It is important to remember that
once complete it may take up to 15 days for
these requests to be approved, so Troopers
should consider this time allowance.
Approval can take up to 45 days for non-
PAGE 101 THE WIRE
"When I first deployed I didn't know
my family could come visit me here," said
Army Sgt. Miguel Rivera, a Puerto Rico
Army National Guardsman deployed to the
JTF. "I'm working on bringing my family
from back in [Puerto Rico] right now. I
thought it would be really hard to get all of
the steps done, but it actually goes pretty
easy it just takes a little bit of time."
Once the clearance request has been
completed, the Trooper must have it
approved as outlined on the JTF's family
visitation routing slip. This slip can also be
found in the "Visitor Process" section of the
JTF's Intranet. It may take up to five days to
have the request approved at the command
level. Troopers should contact Sgt. 1 t Class
Jose Rivera at extension 9700 for more
information regarding command approval.
Troopers also need to consider where
their guests will be lodged during their
time in Guantanamo Bay, as most JTF
Troopers cannot have house guests. To
acquire lodging, Troopers should call the
Navy Lodge at extension 3103 or the Naval
Station transient housing office at extension
2400. It is required that a Trooper's guests
have a valid housing reservation prior to
approval of their clearance request.
Troopers should also be aware of the
regulations and restrictions on rotator travel
and flights on Lynx Air and Air Sunshine.
Troopers should contact their specific airline
of choice in advance of purchasing a ticket
to ensure their guests meet all requirements.
Flight reservations are also required prior
to a clearance requests approval. More
information about rotator travel and flight
schedules can be found on the JTF's Intranet
under "Resources" and then "Rotator and
Civilian Flight Schedules."
Final approval of the request comes from
the Naval Station's operations office located
inside Building 2144. Once received,
operations will take approximately 24 hours
to approve the request.
Lastly Troopers must submit both their
routing slip and visitation requests to the
administration clerk at the joint personnel
service center located inside Building 1451
for archiving. Troopers need to ensure each
guest has a copy of their approved visitation
request along with a valid passport prior to
boarding their flight. If guests are missing
either of these required documents, they
will not be allowed to board the flight.
Though the process to have guests
command-approved may seem like a
daunting task, it actually moves quite
smoothly if the steps on the routing slip
are followed. Troopers should allow
enough time for processing and have all
accommodations reserved well in advance
to ensure a pleasurable visit for both
themselves and their guests.
"I can't wait to show my family what
I am doing here," Rivera said. "Families
don't usually get to see what Soldiers do
while they are deployed. I feel very grateful
to have this opportunity."O
INFORMATION I FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 13, 2009
Navy Lt. Cmdr.
Chocolates, flowers, cards and special
dinners it must be Valentine's Day. How
can you take the thoughts intended for this
one holiday and make them a part of your
everyday life? How can you strengthen the
most special relationship in your life your
Building and maintaining a happy,
healthy relationship is a process; there is no
finish line. It takes work and effort, but it will
be the most rewarding work you will ever
do. Dr. John Gottman, one of the foremost
experts on marriages and relationships,
defines the following principals as steps
toward a successful marriage.
Know Each Other Constantly learn
all about each other's likes, dislikes, wishes,
fears, hopes, dreams, et cetera. This is not a
one-time event. As you grow older together,
you will both gain different goals, dreams
and desires. Continue to check in with each
other to see how those goals may change.
Foster Fondness and Admiration -
Focus on each other's positive qualities,
positive feelings for each other, and the good
times you have shared with each other. If
you focus on the negative or what is wrong
or what needs to be fixed in your partner, you
will never see them for who they truly are.
Turn Toward Each Other Instead of
Away Interact frequently by telling each
other about your day, your thoughts, your
experiences. Romance is fueled not by
candlelight dinners, but by interacting with
your partner in numerous little ways. You
must do this even in solving your problems
and conflict one can never go outside of
a relationship to fix what is wrong inside a
Share Power Let your partner influence
you. This is not to say that you should give
up all power and become and do all they
say. However, the happiest marriages are
those where the partner treats the other
with respect and dignity and is willing to
share their power and involve each other in
Solve Your Solvable Problems -
Communicate respectfully. Use "I"
statements, criticize behavior without
criticizing your partner, take a break when
you're getting too upset, and compromise.
It becomes essential for everyone to decide
whether you want to be right, or happy.
If you would like more information on
this topic or would like to borrow a copy
of Dr. Gottman's book, please come by or
call the JSMART office. Though many of
us may be physically far away from our
loved ones at this time, it is my hope that
using some of these skills will help us all
become closer emotionally and spiritually to
those we treasure most. Let us enhance and
strengthen our most special relationship and
make Valentine's Day 365 days a year.
Information from 'The Seven Principles
for Making Marriage Work' by Dr John
Mordechai Gottman and Nan Silver 0
MUSE maintains at home and abroad
POWER from 3
"Knowledge of the equipment, safety issues,
in-briefs and out-briefs are key for the success
of the [detachment officer-in-charge]," said
Parker. "They manage a lot of the administrative
MUSE reports their findings back to public
works as well as the contractors so they know
what maintenance is being done and what has
been missed. This allows the public works
department to see how their maintenance cycle is
operating, Parker explained.
There are approximately 30 members in the
MUSE program who support missions ranging
from power support for Navy ships, to managing
the back-up generators at the White House, as
well as disaster relief at home and abroad.
"We do disaster relief installations where
we'll stay, maintain and operate the equipment
while the recovery and relief efforts are going
on," Parker said. "Once power is restored, we
usually pull our equipment and go home. We
don't have enough people to stay and operate at
regular locations; we have 17 sites around the
world and only about 30 people."
Whether supporting joint military efforts after
Hurricane Katrina, supplying power at Camp
Pendleton in Nov. 2007 when 21,000 acres
burned in the California fires, or maintaining any
number of generator units worldwide, MUSE
works to ensure safety and success. 0
NEWS & INFORMATION I FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 13, 2009
PAGE 12 1 THE WIRE
Trained and ready
U.S. Coast Guard Petty Officer 3rd Class Philip Conaty, deployed here with Port Security Unit 305, pulls a dummy out of
the water under the guidance of U.S. Coast Guard Petty Officer 3rd Class Kurt Jinx during a man overboard simulation
here, Feb. 10. PSU 305 performs maritime anti-terrorism and force protection duties for Joint Task Force Guantanamo.
- JTF Guantanamo photo by Army Spc. Erica Isaacson
FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 13, 2009 1 VOICE OF THE FORCE
THE WIRE I PAGE 13
Navy Lt. Cmdr.
JTF Command Chaplain
I remember several years ago taking part
in a class which taught us how to interact
with the media as a member of the armed
forces. As part of the training, we had the
opportunity to practice being interviewed
in a television studio type setting, as well
as the roving reporter type of situation.
Afterwards, we could review the damage on
tape, and see how we looked on the screen
in living color!
It was eye-opening, to say the least, on
how one can be caught off guard, especially
in a hostile interview. We learned how
important it was to have your own message
firmly in mind before you speak to the
media. Trying to compose one's thoughts is
difficult when the microphone is suddenly
right in front of your nose.
Here at Guantanamo, I have heard more
about the media than anywhere else I have
been assigned. It isn't just the media either
- when we go home on leave, there are lots
of questions from our friends back home
about Guantanamo Bay, and what goes on
here. That is why it helps to have the Joint
Task Force command message in mind as
we tell the truth about Guantanamo Bay.
What do we do here? As my handy
"Guide to Speaking to the Media" from the
public affairs office points out, we "conduct
safe, humane, legal and transparent care
and custody of detained enemy combatants,
including those convicted by military
commission and those ordered released."
In a short statement, we succinctly tell our
mission. It helps a lot to have your message
I think having your message in mind
goes beyond what we do at Guantanamo
Bay, or what we do as military or civilian
members in the armed forces. Do you have
your own personal command message?
Do you have your own mission statement?
What is it that is important to you? What are
the true values and principles you live by?
It helps to have that in mind when we
go about our daily lives, in talking and
relating to our friends and family. It helps
to understand our faith, to know and have
firmly in mind what our purpose in life is.
If we don't keep that mission statement
in mind, far too often we just tend to drift
along in life. When people ask us what is
important to us, it helps to have done some
I attended another course a while ago.
One of the things we did in that class was
to fill out a card with our personal mission
statement, our personal goal, and then, we
laminated the card. I still carry it around in
my briefcase to this day. One sentence is
all it is: "To live my life as husband, father,
and pastor in the shadow of the cross."
When I remember to take that card out
and think about it in the morning, my day
takes on a different tone. If I remind myself
what is important in my life, and what my
goal is, I am a lot more likely to arrive! I
need to know my mission. I need to know
what my own message is, the values and
principles that are important to me. And, I
need to know my audience, what they value
and what their mission is. If I know all this,
I can make an impact in someone's life.
Take some time today and think about
your "life message," because knowing
your own life message is the first step in
achieving the goals you have in your life! Q
PAGE 14 I THE WIRE
Sunday: 9 a.m.
Spanish Protestant Worship
Sunday: 11 a.m.
Sunday: 6 p.m. Wednesday: 7 p.m.
LIFE & SPIRIT I FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 13, 2009
11 I l iii '1 l P
Sunday: 7 a.m. Confession
Wednesday: 11 a.m. Spanish Mass
'Don't let fe
Army Staff Sgt.
JTF Guantanamo Public Affairs
Navy Petty Office 3rd Class Benjamin
Dennis' passion for drawing and painting
began as a kid and developed over the years
on different canvases. What began as self-
expression on New York buildings and train
cars has become a talent he shares, even
leaving his mark behind at Guantanamo
"I used to get in trouble a lot when I was a
kid fordoing graffiti and painting onthings,"
Dennis said. "I transferred [my creativity]
over to something more constructive [as a]
way for me to vent without infringing on
other people's property."
As a kid, Dennis recalled getting picked
on for not being able to draw like the other
"Kids would come to school and draw
and scribble on things and tell me, 'You
can't draw like that!' And I'd say, 'Yes I
can!' But, I couldn't draw like that," Dennis
said. "So, I tried and tried until I was better
than them. It was just another thing to do. I
wanted to prove to them that I was better."
Dennis honed his artistic skills by "just
"I did a lot of school pride murals for
high schools back in New York and a
few murals in spray paint on the sides of
grocery stores and train stations," Dennis
said. "Sometimes I didn't know if it would
turn out the way I wanted it to. I'm a pretty
harsh critic of myself. I always see a flaw
in whatever I do."
As a mass communication specialist,
Dennis has worked with Joint Task
Force Public Affairs and Naval Station
Guantanamo Bay, lending his talent to
video production as well as writing stories
and taking photographs for 'The Wire,' and
the NAVSTA 'Gazette.' He also left his
artistic mark at Radio GTMO.
"[Navy Petty Officer It Class] Camerino
Pagan, [defense media activity leading
petty officer], said the radio station looked
pretty boring," Dennis said. "I told him that
I paint and he got the tools. Pagan said I
could do whatever I want, but wanted to
make sure the painting was of someone
that everyone could identify. I painted
two people who were easily recognizable,
Britney Spears and 50 Cent."
"I originally wanted to paint Ray
Charles, Willie Nelson and Marvin Gaye
but I didn't want people to walk in and say,
'Who's that guy?'"
According to Pagan, during the recent
upgrades for the defense media activity,
he wanted his team to have a sense of
ownership at the radio station and Dennis'
mural provided that.
"I have already seen many smiles as the
guys walk down the hallway," Pagan said.
"I did a tour the other day and our guests
were really impressed and it wasn't even
The painting took Dennis about three
weeks to complete.
"The beautiful thing about painting,"
Dennis quipped, "is if you make a mistake,
you just cover it up and keep going. It's
very freeing and helps me focus."
"It was great to see [Dennis] doing
something he loves to do," Pagan
added. "As leaders it is our job to
motivate and push professional and
personal development. I believe Dennis'
commitment to the project demonstrated
a commitment he can deliver time and
time again no matter what task, personal
or professional, is given to him."
FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 13, 2009 115 MINUTES OF FAME
As Dennis comes to the end of his career
in the Navy, his sights are set for becoming
a teacher of art and English.
"I think the best age to start teaching
is middle school-kids as they are most
influenced at that age," Dennis said. "They
want to be like the older kids, but they're
still pretty young and want to grow up
too fast. I feel like I wasted a little of my
potential by not following some of the
goals I had. If I had somebody to mentor
me when I was their age, I probably would
not [have] worried about some of the things
I [used to].
"If you like to do something, no matter
how silly you may think it is someone else
might not, so try," Dennis said. "Don't let
fear keep you down." 0
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