By Mass Communication Specialist Seaman L. A. Preston, USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) Public Affairs
A Sailor walks toward an MH-60S Sea Hawk helicopter on the flight deck of aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75). As the force of the wind from the blades rushes over them the excitement builds. Once they climb in and the door closes it’s as if they have entered a whole new world. The helicopter sways side to side as it lifts off the flight deck. Looking to the right, the aircraft carrier is suddenly unbelievably small. Strapped into a gunner’s belt, the door flies open and their goggles are almost ripped away from their face. Looking through the lens, a faint click is heard only by the photographer and the moment is captured in an image.
Photography is one of the many jobs Mass Communication Specialists are responsible for during their time at sea. After completing a six-month “A” School, they journey into the fleet traveling world wide to gain real-world experience in journalism, photography, videography, public affairs and graphic design.
Truman’s Media department consists of Mass Communication Specialists and Public Affairs Officers who provide public affairs support, videographic, photographic, printing and design services for the Harry S. Truman Carrier Strike Group.
“What we do, we do for the betterment of the crew – to make the Truman team stronger,” said Chief Mass Communication Specialist D. Withrow, Media department’s leading chief petty officer.
Withrow said his Sailors in Media make up a unique department because the products they provide start with nothing – a blank sheet of paper or screen that is transformed into something that will bring knowledge, encouragement or enjoyment to Sailors aboard Truman.
“Truman’s Media department is the best in the fleet because of five things: passion, talent, perseverance, integrity and a phenomenal crew,” said Lt. Cmdr. C. Tresch, Truman’s public affairs officer and Media department head. “That combination provides the content and the expertise to tell the stories that make a difference.”
Media department provides the crew with important information and valuable training through the Shipboard Information, Training and Entertainment TV system, the ‘Give ‘Em Hell Herald’, the ‘Truman Show’, posters and various other products. In just one week, Media department created 162,000 copies, hosted 38 reporters, 22 distinguished visitors, released 53 photos to a worldwide audience, produced 10 video projects and published six stories to support training, maintenance and other critical functions.
Media also creates lasting memories with photographs and videos of promotion ceremonies, awards at quarters, pinnings, reenlistments, retirements and other keepsake moments.
In addition to printed products, Media department is responsible for Truman’s social media program. Truman’s Facebook page has more than 86,000 followers. Through social media, families are able to live vicariously through the photographs and videos of their loved ones.
“The importance of our job extends beyond providing pictures and articles; we bring families into our world, even if we are thousands of miles away,” said Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class M. Gillan.
PAOs and MCs also manage the distinguished visitor program, providng political and military leaders from around the world an opportunity to strengthen partnerships. Additionally, they train collateral duty public affairs officers for commands that do not have a PAO aboard in order to support DV programs by planning and executing the visits, answer media queries, and maintain public outreach.
“Truman is a floating city,” said Tresch. “With more than 5,000 people there has to be a way to bring everyone together, to communicate in a dynamic environment—media is one of those ways.”
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