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Retired U.S Navy Cmdr. Hugh Doyle visited the Senior Enlisted Academy (SEA) at Naval Station Newport, March 5, to speak with students about his experience aboard the now-decommissioned USS Kirk (FF 1087) during the Vietnam War.
As chief engineer on the frigate, Doyle aided their mission to support the evacuation of the American embassy and military advisers from Saigon as well as to secure the safety of the South Vietnamese.
“I think in the Navy we often highlight combat awards and we focus a lot on the war fighting missions,” said Senior Chief Machinist’s Mate (Nuclear) Kelsey Thorup, a SEA student . “We don’t always talk about the humanitarian side.”
During the evacuation, the Kirk became a makeshift landing pad for helicopters flown by South Vietnamese airmen.
According to Thorup, learning about the experiences of the Kirk’s crew shows that you have to be prepared for anything when you are in the fleet.
“We are here to learn how to develop ourselves into better leaders,” said Thorup. “Hearing these stories reminds us that missions can sometimes change instantaneously and you have to be ready for it.”
Thorup added that one message from Doyle’s presentation really resonated with him, “never underestimate what your people can do.”
“I really think Cmdr. Doyle hit it best,” said Thorup. “The only thing I would add with that is don’t underestimate yourself, because you never know what you’re capable of until you get a chance to see it.”
The SEA is a 10-week leadership development program for active and reserve senior enlisted leaders from the U.S. Navy, Air Force, Army, Marine Corps, Coast Guard and National Guard, as well as from our international service partners, for increased leadership and career advancement. SEA focuses on management, leadership, national security and physical fitness.
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