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Ceremony Participants

Amanda D. Robison

Matron of Honor, Richard M. McCool Jr. (LPD 29)

Amanda D. Robison was born at San Diego Naval Hospital to James and Gales Schafer, both veterans of the United States Navy. As a result of her father’s career with the United States Government, Amanda grew up overseas before finally moving back to the United States in 2000.

Amanda currently resides in Bristow, Virginia and is married to John Robison. They share two children – son Bayne (8) and daughter Renwick (2). Amanda has spent the last 10 years of her career at BAE Systems, Inc., the U.S. subsidiary of BAE Systems plc, an international defense, aerospace, and security company.  She supports the Industrial Security function.

Amanda is honored to serve as the Matron of Honor for the christening of the LPD 29.  She met ship co-sponsor Shana McCool through their children, who share the same neighborhood caretaker. Those meetings and occasional run-ins blossomed over the years into a cherished friendship between the two families.

Amanda is proud to stand by Shana as she honors a courageous man who exemplified the meaning of “hero” both in his distinguished career with the United States Navy and, more personally, in the role she knew him to be the best at: “Grandpa.”

 

Vice Admiral Randy Crites

Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Integration of Capabilities and Resources, N8, Office of the Chief of Naval Operations

Vice Adm. Randy Crites is a native of Lima, Ohio, graduated from The Ohio State University with a bachelor’s degree in engineering and was commissioned through the Nuclear Propulsion Officer Candidate program in 1985. He completed his Master of Arts in National Security Affairs at The College of Naval Command and Staff at the Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island, in 1996 and a graduate of MIT Seminar XXI National Securities study program.

His early sea tours included assignments as executive officer of USS Nebraska (SSBN 739), navigator and operations officer on USS Archerfish (SSN 678), and he qualified in submarines serving as a

division officer aboard USS Ray (SSN 653).
Crites’ submarine command assignments included USS Florida (SSGN 728) where he deployed to the U.S. 5th and 6th Fleet areas of responsibility and USS West Virginia (SSBN 736) where he completed four strategic deterrent patrols.

Tours ashore included branch head, Program Planning and Development, Chief of Naval Operations (OPNAV) N801; Prospective Commanding Officer instructor U.S. Atlantic Fleet; senior member of the Atlantic, Tactical Readiness Evaluation Team; head of the Submarine Program Section and Shipbuilding Account Manager (OPNAV) N80; and weapons system programmer at U.S. Strategic Command and officer-in-charge of the performance-monitoring team at Submarine Squadron Four.

His previous flag assignments include, deputy assistant Secretary of the Navy for Budget (FMB) and director, Fiscal Management Division, OPNAV (N82); director, Assessments Division (N81) on the OPNAV staff; commander, Submarine Group 10; and director, Maritime Headquarters U.S. Pacific Fleet.

Crites’ personal awards include the Legion of Merit, Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Meritorious Service Medal, Navy-Marine Corps Commendation Medal and Navy-Marine Corps Achievement Medal. He is most proud of his various unit awards that reflect credit on the successful teams he has served with and the many skilled professionals he has been privileged to work alongside.

 

Erik K. Raven

Under Secretary of the Navy

The Honorable Erik K. Raven assumed the responsibilities of the Under Secretary of the Navy on 13 April, 2022. He serves as the Department of Navy’s Chief Operating Officer and Chief Management Officer. He is responsible for providing oversight and policy for defense and naval strategy, intelligence and intelligence-related activities, sensitive activities, special access programs, space activities, critical infrastructure, small business programs, and the naval audit service. Additionally, he is responsible for business operations, performance management, and risk management within the Department.

Mr. Raven has served in a variety of legislative senior leadership positions in the federal government. Before his nomination, Mr. Raven was the principal advisor to the Democratic Chairs and Vice-Chairs of the Committee on Appropriations and Subcommittee on Defense on budget matters relating to the Department of Defense and intelligence community.

Mr. Raven also served as a principal advisor in the offices of Senators Feinstein, Kennedy, and Byrd, advising on defense, foreign affairs, homeland security, veterans, space, and transportation policy issues.

Mr. Raven holds a master’s degree in the History of International Relations from the London School of Economics, and a Bachelor of Arts in International Relations from Connecticut College.

 

Lieutenant Junior Grade Wileslie Wint

Deputy Command Chaplin, Naval Construction Battalion Center, Gulfport

Chaplain Wint is a native of Manchester, Jamaica. Heimmigrated to the United States at age 10, and attended Kingswood-Oxford School (West Hartford, CT). After graduation, he enlisted in the Navy where he served as a Hospital Corpsman. He later enlisted in the Army where he served as a Motor Transportation Operator. He is a graduate of Thomas Edison University (Trenton, NJ) and Corban University (Salem, OR), receiving Bachelor of Art and Master of Divinity, respectively. In addition, he completed two units of Clinical Pastoral Education at St. Peters Hospital Lacey, WA and a residency at MultiCare Good Samaritan Hospital Puyallup, WA. He is endorsed by the General Association of Regular Baptist (GARBC).

LTJG Wint was commissioned in the Naval Reserves as a chaplain candidate in 2011. As a Chaplain candidate, he graduated from the Officer Development Course 2012. He accepted his appointment to active duty on 11 July 2021.

His enlistment tours include 40th Transportation Company (Joint Base Lewis McChord, WA) with deployments to Kuwait, and Iraq from 2009-2010.

His recent experience includes PeaceHealth Sacred Heart Hospital as a Hospice Chaplain (Eugene, OR), Associate Pastor at Tumwater First Baptist Church (Tumwater, WA), and EvergreenHealth (Kirkland, WA) as a Hospice Chaplain.

LTJG Wint is currently the Deputy Command Base Chaplain at Seabee Memorial Chaplain Naval Construction Battalion Center Gulfport MS.

Chaplain Wint’s personal awards include the Army Commendation Medal, Army Achievement Medal, Navy Good Conduct Medal, Army Good Conduct Medal, Navy Expert Pistol Medal, Navy Expert Rifle Medal and various campaign, unit, and service awards.

 

Rear Admiral Thomas J. Anderson

Program Executive Officer for Ships

Rear Adm. Anderson is a native of North Brunswick, New Jersey. He was commissioned in 1991 through the Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps (NROTC) Program at Boston University where he received a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering.
Anderson’s tours as a surface warfare officer included USS Capodanno (FF 1093) and USS Arleigh Burke (DDG 51), where he coordinated the first two Chief of Naval Operations availabilities of the DDG 51 Class.

Upon selection to the engineering duty community in 1996, he attended the Naval Postgraduate School where he earned a Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering. He also completed the Total Ship Systems Engineering Curriculum and became a California State Licensed Professional Engineer.

Ashore, he has served in a variety of industrial, fleet, program office and headquarters assignments in ship design and construction, maintenance, budgeting, and requirements. His ashore assignments include: Naval Sea Systems Command executive assistant; Littoral Combat Ship Shipbuilding program manager (PMS 501); Office of the Chief of Naval Operations requirements officer (N86); chief engineer and post-delivery branch head for the DDG 51 Class (PMS 400D); and Commander, Naval Surface Forces, Atlantic, mine warfare type desk officer (N43).

Anderson’s first flag assignment was commander, Naval Surface Warfare Center, leading more than 17,000 scientists, engineers, technicians and support personnel, providing research, development, test and evaluation for the future Navy as well as in-service engineering and logistics support for the operational naval forces. Anderson also served as the Department of Defense executive manager for Military Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) Technology and Training, with oversight responsibilities for joint military EOD systems and training.

Most recently, Anderson served as the commander, Navy Regional Maintenance Center (CNRMC) and Naval Sea Systems Command director, Surface Ship Maintenance and Modernization (SEA 21). He was responsible for managing critical ship modernization and maintenance, training, Foreign Military support contracts, and inactivation programs.

Currently, Anderson is serving as program executive officer, Ships, where he is responsible for Navy shipbuilding for surface combatants, amphibious ships, logistics support ships, support craft, and related foreign military sales.
Anderson’s personal awards include the Legion of Merit (four awards), Meritorious Service Medal (three awards), and Joint Service Commendation Medal. He is a member of the Acquisition Professional Community with Level III certifications in Program Management, Production Quality Management, and Systems Engineering.

 

Lieutenant General David G. Bellon

Commander, Marine Forces Reserve/Commander, Marine Forces South

Lieutenant General Bellon was born in Fort Polk, Louisiana, and raised in St. Louis, Missouri. He graduated from the University of Kansas in 1987 and the University of Missouri School of Law in 1990. He was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in 1989. Bellon began service as an Infantry  Officer with 2nd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment. He then served as a Judge Advocate with 1st Force Service Support Group. In 1997, he left active duty and joined the Selected Marine Corps Reserve serving six years with 4th Light Armored Reconnaissance (LAR) Battalion in a variety of positions. As a civilian, Bellon founded his own law firm in 1999 located in Oceanside, CA.

After 9/11, he returned to active duty for four combat tours in support of both OPERATION IRAQI FREEDOM (OIF) and OPERATION ENDURING FREEDOM (OEF). During OIF I, he served as Operations Officer for 4th LAR with both TASK FORCE TARAWA and TASK FORCE SCORPION. During OIF II, Bellon served as the Intelligence Officer for Regimental Combat Team 1 during its 14 month deployment in and around the City of Al Fallujah, Iraq, participating in both battles for the city. His third OIF tour was in Command of Battalion Task Force 3d Battalion, 23d Marine Regiment, in 2007-2008. The Task Force executed counter-insurgency operations in and around the city of Al Haditha, Iraq.

In 2008, Bellon was selected as the Marine Corps Reserves representative in a full-time student status attending Top Level School at the Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island. While there, he was promoted to Colonel and received subsequent orders for deployment in support of Operation ENDURING FREEDOM. Bellon deployed to Afghanistan in September 2009 with the British 6th Division. While in Afghanistan, he served as the Chief of Operations for Southern Afghanistan during NATO’s 2010 surge of forces to secure the strategically vital area in and around Kandahar City.

Bellon was promoted to Brigadier General in 2013. His assignments as a General Officer prior to his current billet include Deputy Commander (Mobilization) 1st Marine Expeditionary Force; Deputy Marine Forces Command; Director Reserve Affairs; Commander Marine Forces South; and Director of Strategy, Policy, and Plans (J5) U.S. Southern Command. He was promoted to his current rank and assumed duties as Commander, Marine Forces Reserve and Marine Forces North on 4 September 2019.

  

 

Capt. Nathan A. Schneider

Commander, Supervisor of Shipbuilding, Conversion & Repair, Gulf Coast

Capt. Schneider grew up in Rice Lake, WI and attended the United States Naval Academy where he earned a Bachelor of Science in Aerospace Engineering and was subsequently commissioned as an Ensign in 1996.

Capt. Schneider began his naval career as a Surface Warfare Officer with his first tour as the Ordnance Officer aboard the USS CALLAGHAN (DDG 994) from January of 1997 until her decommissioning in March of 1998. His next tour was aboard the USS CHANDLER (DDG 996) as the Fire Control Officer, as well as the Combat Systems Officer prior to her decommissioning in October of 1999. Following this tour, Capt. Schneider served aboard USS PAUL F. FOSTER (DD 964) as the Assistant Chief Engineer and Ship’s Maintenance Management Officer from December 1999 until January 2001. During this period he also served as the ship’s Docking Selected Restricted Availability (DSRA) Coordinator for her four month DSRA accomplished at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard and Intermediate Maintenance Facility.

Capt. Schneider laterally transferred to the Engineering Duty Officer (EDO) community in January of 2001. He attended the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, CA, where he earned a Mechanical Engineer’s degree and a Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering in 2003. After graduation, Capt. Schneider reported to the Supervisor of Shipbuilding, Conversion and Repair (SUPSHIP), Puget Sound where he first served as the Surface Combatant Project Officer until assigned the Aircraft Carrier Project Officer, a position he held from October 2004 until October 2006. Capt. Schneider reported to SUPSHIP Bath in Bath, ME where he was the Technical Director and later became the DDG 1000 Program Manager’s Representative (PMR) until departing in August 2008 for PMS 500 (DDG 1000 Program). While attached to PMS 500, Capt. Schneider first served as Production Officer before assuming the role of Production Test and Trials and Post Delivery Officer, until departing in July of 2011. While serving with PMS 500, he also served a year as an Individual Augmentee in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Following this tour, Capt. Schneider served as the Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) PMR at SUPSHIP Bath Detachment Marinette in Marinette, WI until September of 2015, delivering LCS 3 and overseeing the shipyard’s transition to full-rate production. Capt. Schneider later served as the LCS Post Delivery Officer until August of 2016 and then Chief of Staff to the Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Navy (Ships) Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Navy Research, Development and Acquisition. In August 2018, he reported to SUPSHIP Gulf Coast as the Executive Officer. On Aug. 12, 2019, he assumed command of SSGC as the seventh Supervisor of Shipbuilding, Gulf Coast.

Capt. Schneider has been awarded the Legion of Merit, Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Meritorious Service Medal (3 Awards), Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal (2 Awards), Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal (2 Awards) and numerous campaign and unit awards.

 

Capt. Cedric McNeal, USN

Commanding Officer, Naval Surface Warfare Center Carderock Division

Born and raised in Jackson, Mississippi, Capt. McNeal received his commissioning in 1997 from the Southern University and A&M College in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, NROTC unit.

After commissioning, Capt. McNeal reported to Surface Warfare Officer School in Newport, Rhode Island, where he completed the basic Surface Warfare Officer training course. In November 1997, he reported aboard USS Gunston Hall (LSD 44) where served as Communications Officer and CMS Custodian/EKMS Manager, qualifying as a Surface Warfare Officer and also earning his qualification as a Diesel Engineering Officer of the Watch. In November 1999, he reported aboard USS Caron (DD 970) and served as the ship’s Navigator and Administrative Officer. Prior to completing his tour, he decided to pursue his commissioning option for the Engineering Duty Officer Community and in 2001, reported to the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California, where he earned a Master’s of Science in applied physics with a concentration in weapons systems. He then completed his EDO of the EDO Basic Course in Port Hueneme, California.

Capt. McNeal’s first Engineering Duty Officer tour was with SUPSHIP San Diego, (now Southwest Regional Maintenance Center, SWRMC) where he was assigned as Project Officer to the USS Curts (FFG 38) for their Docking Selected Restricted Availability and then went on to serve in the same capacity for USS Peleliu (LHA 5). Also while at SWRMC, Capt. McNeal served as Project Manager for maintenance availabilities aboard USS Germantown (LSD 42) and USS Pearl Harbor (LSD 52) and then as the LSD/LPD Class Team Business Officer for all San Diego based LSD and LPD ships.

Upon completion of his tour at SWRMC, Capt. McNeal went on to complete two tours in new ship construction on the Gulf Coast. From December 2005 to May 2009, he was assigned to SUPSHIP Gulf Coast as the Production Officer for USS Makin Island (LHD 8). In June 2009, Capt. McNeal reported to SUPSHIP Bath, and led its Mobile, Alabama, detachment in the delivery of USS Independence (LCS 2), a first-of-class vessel being presented to the Navy by a first-time shipbuilder.

In 2011, Capt. McNeal, served a one-year Individual Augmentee tour of duty in Djibouti, Africa, as the Operations Officer for the Combined Joint Task Force, Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA), where he managed Humanitarian Assistance (HA) construction projects, supporting the HA Program Manager and Task Force Engineer. Following completion of his overseas duty, Capt. McNeal was assigned to PMS 377 (Amphibious Warfare Program Office) as the Deputy Technical Director. After his tour in PMS 377, he served as the Director for Surface Combatants for the Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Ships, managing acquisition portfolios for the DDG 51, DDG 1000, and LCS shipbuilding programs. He most recently served as the Deputy Major Program Manager for the Guided Missile Frigate (FFG(X)) Program in PMS 515.

 

Capt. Jeff Baker

Prospective Commanding Officer, Richard M. McCool Jr. (LPD 29)

Captain Baker enlisted in the Navy in 1994 following graduation from Westminster College in Pennsylvania, earning a Bachelor of Science degree in Physics. He completed nuclear propulsion training and served two years as an instructor at Nuclear Power Training Unit Ballston Spa, New York and was commissioned through Officer Candidate School in 1998. He earned a Master of Science degree in Systems Engineering & Analysis from the Naval Postgraduate School, and completed Joint Professional Military Education Phase I from the Naval War College in 2005. In 2020, he earned a Master of Science degree in Joint Campaign Planning and Strategy and completed Joint Professional Military Education Phase II from the National Defense University, Joint Advanced Warfighting School.

Afloat, Capt. Baker served as the Main Propulsion Officer on USS Shreveport (LPD 12); Landing Craft Officer in Charge in Assault Craft Unit Two; Chief Engineer on USS Gunston Hall (LSD 44); Commanding Officer of Patrol Coastal Crew Delta on USS Hurricane (PC 3) and USS Firebolt (PC 10); Executive Officer on USS Comstock (LSD 45); and Commanding Officer on USS Tortuga (LSD 46).

Ashore, Capt. Baker served as a Federal Executive Fellow in Washington D.C. and worked on U.S. Maritime Strategy in the Defense Studies group at the American Enterprise Institute; COMNAVSURFLANT N44 working material readiness improvements for Amphibious and Patrol Coastal ships; and Commanding Officer at Engineering Assessments Atlantic.

Capt. Baker is currently assigned as the Commander for Naval Surface Squadron Five (CNSS-5) in Bahrain.

Capt. Baker’s military decorations include the Meritorious Service Medal (two awards), Navy Commendation Medal (six awards), the National Defense Service Medal, the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, the Global War on Terror (GWOT) Expeditionary and Service Medals, the Iraqi Campaign Medal, and various other campaign medals and unit awards.