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Third Time’s A Charm for This Carney Sailor

September 22, 2015 at 12:38 PM UTC

ATLANTIC OCEAN (Sept. 18, 2015) – Not too many Sailors can say they’ve earned their enlisted surface warfare specialist (ESWS) pin and their surface warfare officer (SWO) pin on the same ship. Lt. Robert Pryor, from Daytona Beach, Florida, can.   Pryor first reported to the guided-missile destroyer USS Carney (DDG 64) in May 1999 as a fire controlman (FC), and now, 16 years later, is one of the most qualified officers aboard, serving as the Systems Test Officer (STO), responsible for the health of the Aegis combat suite. Continue reading for more of Lt. Robert Pryor's story...


Pryor enlisted in the Navy 18 years ago in search of an adventure. When he graduated high school he knew his parents were moving to a small town in North Carolina, but he wasn’t looking to have a small town life.   “I was kind of tired of doing schoolwork and I just wanted to jump out into the Navy,” said Pryor. “To go out, explore, see different things and do something that I knew I wouldn’t be able to do had I moved to where they retired.”   When he first met his recruiters September 1996 they took him on a ship tour, which just so happened to be the Carney.   “I saw what the DDG life was like, and I knew I wanted to be on a new destroyer,” said Pryor. “So I asked the recruiter what job fields I’d have to do to be on a ship like that, and she said ‘you’d either have to be an FC or an ET [electronics technician].’ So I knew I wanted to do one of those two jobs.”   Pryor arrived at recruit training in Great Lakes, Illinois, Aug. 4, 1997. After graduating, he went to “A” school and then to the fleet, starting out as an FC on the ship he first toured as a young man considering a career in the Navy.   He was stationed aboard Carney for two years, where he earned his ESWS pin. In May 2011, just before his 14-year mark, he applied to be a Limited Duty Officer (LDO), earning his commission shortly after.   “I really enjoyed being an FC and sometimes I miss it,” said Pryor. “Ultimately, I knew I always wanted to be a commissioned officer. I told my recruiter I’d like to be the CNO maybe, someday.”   As a brand new ensign it was time for Pryor to go to his first ship.   “Originally I was supposed to go to The Sullivans [DDG 68],” said Pryor. “The STO that was on The Sullivans was supposed to go to Carney but he called me up and said ‘Hey.   I’m going to stay here .... and you’re going to Carney.’”   Now, back to where he started 18 years ago, Pryor considers seeing the Sailors he trained get promoted to be the greatest reward in the Navy.   “I’ve seen people go from being FC3, ET3 or GSM3 [Gas Turbine Systems Technician (Mechanical)] to putting on their [chief petty officer] anchors or putting on LDO,” said Pryor. “Watching individuals I’ve seen in the past grow, meet those major milestones and become new leaders is, by far, one of the highlights of my career.” Continue reading for more of Lt. Robert Pryor's story...

It wasn’t just Pryor that watched his Sailors grow to become great leaders. Chief Fire Controlman Michael Merkel, from Valparaiso, Indiana, a Sailor assigned to Carney, reported to the guided-missile cruiser USS Hue City (CG 66) in 2002 as an FC3 and had the opportunity to work there with then FC2 Pryor.   Merkel has seen how Pryor’s leadership and mentoring skills have developed over the years and has gained much from them.   “He’s impacted me as a Sailor pretty much across the board,” said Merkel. “He’s been a mentor to me since I got here [aboard the ship]. STO is extremely knowledgeable and he uses that to everybody’s advantage. He is stern but fair, and all while deeply caring for Sailors.”   The culmination of his years as an FC, as well as his skills as a SWO were demonstrated recently when Carney conducted a missile exercise Sept. 13, 2015. Pryor was responsible for the bulk of the planning and execution of the event. During the event he stood watch as the Tactical Action Officer (TAO), which made him responsible for the overall picture, management, and safety of the entire event.   “It goes so quick, said Pryor. “The missile is inbound, we dropped track on it, we reacquired it, and all I’m thinking is we got to get this missile off the ship so we can successfully engage the target.”   He added, “It’s going so fast that you really don’t have time to think of anything other than ‘we’ve got to make sure it’s safe and all the steps are met before we let that missile leave the ship.’”   When Pryor leaves Carney he will be stationed in Mayport, Florida, for shore duty. After that he is going to branch out and experience what he can as an officer.   “Now that I’m a surface ordnance LDO, I’d like to expand on my horizons, said Pryor. “I’d like to see what else the Navy brings and provides rather than the Aegis [weapon system] aspect I’ve experienced my whole career.”   After Pryor retires from the Navy he plans to find a nice place with his family and work as a civilian. He wants to enjoy watching his youngest son grow up.   Carney is the fourth Arleigh Burke-class destroyer to be forward deployed to Rota, Spain to serve as part of the President's European Phased Adaptive Approach to ballistic missile defense in Europe.


By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Jonathan B. Trejo

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