Captain D. Michael Abrashoff

Commander Abrashoff was placed in charge of one of the worst ships in the Navy. Reenlistments were at an all time low, moral was in the gutter, and the sailors all but jeered the previous Captain during his farewell speech. Given the task of implementing 225 years of regulations, keeping his crew safe, and getting the horribly maintained USS Benfold back in underway condition, he jumped to it with a smile. He was a talkative captain who knew every sailor’s full name and usually their girlfriend’s or their wife’s name as well.

He would (several times a day at least) come over the 1MC to just give the weather report, say hi, or announce some sports score to remind people of home. He implemented one of the first serious programs to make sure sailors get to see their children born. It began when one of his sailors missed his first-born son’s birth, but a few weeks later an officer’s wife had complications and got flown out right away. He developed a plan so that every father, enlisted or officer, could see the birth of his child.

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During a very serious fleet wide incident involving the communication between ships, Captain Abrashoff overheard a chief telling one of his E-3s that their idea wouldn’t work. Curious he asked the 19 year old what his plan was. Captain Abrashoff disagreed with the chief, and that E-3 ended up spending 2 months flying from ship to ship rigging their gear in a way that increased data flow by more than 10 fold, and potentially saved the group.

Captain Abrashoff was known for asking questions for his men. When he was stuck waiting behind 2 more senior Captains to enter port first (because of their seniority and navy customs) he asked his boss’s permission to leave early since his ship had passed with over twice the score as others in the previous day’s drills. He was granted permission, which got his men 72 more hours on the beach. Captain Abrashoff is an excellent roll model and I hope to follow in his footsteps one day.

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