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    Kansas City, Mo., Native serves aboard USS Robert Smalls while Conducting Operations in the South China Sea

    Commander, Task Force 70
    Story by Petty Officer 2nd Class RuKiyah Mack
    Wednesday, October 18, 2023
    SOUTH CHINA SEA – A Kansas City native and 2019 Grandview High School graduate is serving in the U.S. Navy aboard the Ticonderoga-class-guided-missile cruiser, USS Robert Smalls (CG 62).
    Petty Officer Third Class Kenan Mitchell is a Boatswain’s Mate, otherwise known as a BM, serving aboard USS Robert Smalls, forward-deployed out of Commander, Fleet Activities Yokosuka, Japan.
    Boatswain’s Mates are one of the Navy’s oldest ratings and with a rich history of honored traditions, they perform a wide range of duties on the ship such as steering the ship, assisting with flight deck operations, operating small boats, and participating in Navy ceremonies.
    “The job of a BM can be fun and dangerous at the same time,” said Mitchell. “Some of our evolutions include dropping the ship’s anchor¬ – which weighs over 300,000 pounds, search and rescue evolutions to maintain readiness for possible man overboard situations, rigging cargo, and much more. We are the elite supervisors of our rate and we’re needed in many different areas onboard the ship because of our old traditions and expertise.”
    On July 25th, Petty Officer Third Class Mitchell arrived to Recruit Training Command in Great Lakes, Ill., and two months later he was an official United States Sailor ¬¬– an accomplishment he takes great pride in.
    “Truthfully my reason for joining the Navy was simple, I wanted to become a better man,” said Mitchell. “Although I had no idea what was in store for me, I knew that joining the Navy could help me become who I want to be. The Navy itself is a challenge that not everyone can handle but, it’s one of those challenges that makes finding your purpose so meaningful.”
    In addition, BMs conduct, direct, supervise, and train ship handling, underway replenishments, deck seamanship, and painting and preservation, amongst a slew of other responsibilities.

    “I love being a BM, I’m able to be part of so much,” said Mitchell. “There is never a time when I’m not active and doing something important. Fixing equipment and maintaining equipment is one of my specialties. We’re hands on and visual at all times. This rate can make you a better person because we are dealing with so many people from different backgrounds.”
    Despite enjoying his job and the personal growth he has experienced since becoming a Sailor, Petty Officer Third Class Mitchell had faced adversity when he first arrived at the command.
    “The challenges I faced here on the USS Robert Smalls was the mindset of just doing the bare minimum”, said Mitchell, “I realized two years in my career that that was the wrong way of thinking. I say that simply because, the harder you work the more you learn and the less you work the less you can help others around you. When you are experienced and well trained, your knowledge can help others who need your assistance because either they’re new or inexperienced. Not performing at 110% can leave you with regret so work hard and never forget why.”
    So Petty Officer Third Class Mitchell worked hard –and it payed off.
    “I’ve been awarded a Flag Letter of Commendation, or FLOC, signed by Rear Admiral M.P. Donnelly for my watch standing duties, up keeping of the ship and rigging,” said Mitchell. “The qualifications I have are BMOW (Boatswain’s Mate of the Watch), Rig Captain, RPPO (Repair Parts Petty Officer), RPPM, and MTT (Medical Training Team). In port I can stand the watch of duty QM, Sea and Anchor POIC (Petty Officer in Charge), BRF Member for Anti-Terrorism, and much more. I plan on getting more qualifications that can help my command and for my next tour.”
    And it payed off again.
    “September 25, 2023 is the day I was mapped to 3rd class and frocked by Captain Henz and my chief, BMC Thompson,” said Mitchell, “I’m up for the next advancement test and soon I’ll be a 2nd class Petty Officer. Having more responsibilities means more work and like I said before, ‘The more you work the more you learn’. Of course it will be a challenge but, it’s a challenge that puts me in a spot where I can be better so I’m definitely looking forward to more responsibilities.
    My future holds a lot of weight and I’m preparing myself for what comes next. Grinding and staying focus is what I strive to do. As a Boatswain’s Mate I want to become “The BM” and I know I can do it. Believing in myself is the first step.”
    Robert Smalls is forward-deployed to the U.S. 7th fleet area of operations in support of a free and open Indo-Pacific.



    Date Taken: 10.18.2023
    Date Posted: 10.19.2023 20:24
    Story ID: 456176
    Location: SOUTH CHINA SEA

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