Leadership takes a thousand different forms, and one of them recently appeared on social media as a Navy ship commander who dresses up as a professional wrestler while handing out awards to his sailors.
Cmdt. david holonskipper of the Arleigh Burke-class Aegis destroyer USS Chung-Hoon, at various times swapped his navy blue jumpsuit for a bright green pajama pantsa purple bandana, a bushy fake beard, a bright red cowboy hata cheetah-print jacket and other outlandish duds that most commanders wouldn’t be caught wearing, let alone in front of their crew or on social media.
But Hollon clearly feels different, at least while acknowledging his sailors’ contribution to the team. About once a week since January 17, the skipper has presented a sailor with a wrestling championship-style belt naming them Sea Warrior of the Week, along with a certificate granting them two days of special freedom. Photos of the events were posted on the destroyer Facebook page, and recently to the unofficial page Navy subredditwhere Redditors praised Hollon’s style.
“I just want to salute a really great commander,” said a Reddit user who posted photos of Hollon in a wrestling costume. “This man, every week, disguised himself out of his own pocket to present weekly awards to junior sailors. He even had to go through meetings with [destroyer squadron command] in full dress because we will not deny the tradition. CDR Hollon, you are the best!
Other Reddit users also responded well in the comments.
“Wish there were more commanders like him in the fleet,” wrote one Redditor.
“That’s a sailor sailor right there,” said another.
It seems that Hollon carried the boundless energy of World Wrestling Entertainment into his visits with the Sailors. “Sea Warrior of the Week” might sound like a boring reward similar to “Employee of the Month,” but not when a big dude with wacky shades and a tattooed sleeve gives it to you (although the two days of freedom are a nice touches .).
“Do you smell lllllllllllllll what the CHUNG-HOON is cooking!!!” wrote the ship’s social media team on Facebook when Hollon present the belt to boatswain Seaman Lopez. “BMSN Lopez is this week’s Sea Warrior of the Week!!”
Judging from other Facebook posts, it seems the tradition of using championship-style belts to recognize sailors goes back at least to April 2021 on the Chung-Hoon. The tradition also seems to have spread to another destroyer, the USS Samson. However, Hollon seems to be the only skipper to dress up for the occasion. Although Chung-Hoon’s public affairs office didn’t respond in time for comment, we can only imagine Hollon presenting the belts in a low, deep voice like the pro wrestling legend. Excited “Macho Man” Savage. Hollon seems to have taken inspiration from Savage since wearing a “Macho Man” t-shirt in a position January 21.
Of course, dressing up as a wrestler isn’t the only way to get props from enlisted servicemen. Sometimes all it takes is handing out smoked turkeys and Rockstar energy drinks when the local commissioner is exhausted, like Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Ian Eishen did it for his Airmen in 2020. Sometimes it’s about openly sharing that you have a date for sanity, like Air Force Gen. Mike Minihan did the last month to encourage its Airmen to seek mental health assistance. And sometimes that means putting the health of your crew ahead of your own career, as Captain Brett Crozier did when he quarantined his ship, the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt, in Guam to protect its sailors from COVID-19 against their will. of his command.
It’s leaders like them who, as Randy Savage said, are “The best.”
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