55th Naval Intelligence Officers’ Dining-In a Success!

Vice Admiral Kelly Aeschbach Speaks
Rear Admiral Mike Vernazza

On 7 December, the Naval Intelligence Officers’ Dining-in made a one-time excursion from its usual October D.C.-area convening, and it was a rousing success. The new Fluegel Alumni Center in Annapolis, Maryland provided a beautiful venue for the event, which drew a crowd of 161 participants, to include six master chiefs, a strong showing from our chief warrant officers, and all 11 U.S. Naval Academy midshipmen who were recently selected for intelligence (1830). 

Rear Admiral Mike Vernazza, Commander Fleet Information Warfare Command and Director, Maritime Information Warfare, U.S. Pacific Fleet, presided over the mess, with Commander Rebekah Lafferty serving as Ms. Vice and Ensign James Mowen serving as the Bull ensign. Distinguished guests in attendance included Vice Admiral Kelly Aeschbach, Commander Navy Information Forces, who was this year’s guest speaker; Admiral (Ret) Bill Studeman; Vice Admiral (Ret) Bob Sharp; Rear Admiral (Ret) Paul Becker; Rear Admiral Mike Brookes (Commander, Office of Naval Intelligence); Rear Admiral Russ Smith (Deputy Director of Operations, National Security Agency); Rear Admiral Tom Henderschedt (Director of Intelligence, Indo-Pacific Command); and Mr. Matthew Freedman (Senior Advisor to Commander, U.S. Pacific Fleet).

Vice Admiral Aeschbach’s remarks were inspirational, highlighting the critical work that Naval Intelligence professionals are doing all over the world—to include playing a key role in the success USS Carney had in shooting down missiles and drones launched by Iran-backed Houthi rebels in the Red Sea. The iBoss also reminded the audience about the significance of the day—7 December—when Pearl Harbor was attacked 82 years ago, sparking the U.S. entry into World War II. She drew an important parallel to the state of the world during that timeframe, when Germany and Japan were on the rise as world powers seeking to reshape the World Order, and the world that exists today, with China presenting a pacing threat to our dominance. In facing that threat, she emphasized that our intelligence professionals—including all those in the room—are our greatest weapon system. “Our intelligence discipline is more relevant and critical than ever,” she said.

The crowd was quite lively as the night went on, with plenty of karaoke and numerous trips to the grog for infractions. The energy level never waned. In the humble opinion of this author, the best skit of the night went to ONI (sadly, the sound for the NIOBC skit was not working). After the final toasts were made and the event was adjourned, it took quite a while for everyone to leave…a good sign that the camaraderie among our Naval Intelligence professionals is alive and well.

Looking forward to seeing everyone at the 56th Dining-In next year!

The Mess gives the final toast to the Department of the Navy
The Head table (left to right): RADM Mike Brookes, ADM (Ret) Bill Studeman, RDML Russ Smith, VADM Kelly Aeschbach, RDML Tom Henderschedt, VADM (Ret) Bob Sharp, RADM Mike Vernazza, LCDR Loren Crone (chaplain), and Mr. Matthew Freedman.
A few of the NIP members who were in attendance.
The Master Chiefs pose with the iBOSS, VADM Kelly Aeschbach. (From left to right): ISCM Joshua Linares, ISCM Ervin Pond, ISCM Cris Galvez, VADM Kelly Aeschbach, FORCM Laura Nunley, ISCM Scott Norman, ISCM Robert Morris.
NIOBC Class 23-060 made it up from Virginia Beach.
There are always a few renegade shirts, as worn here by CDR Tolu O'Brien, CAPT Trent Fingerson, CDR Rebekah Lafferty, and RDML Josh Himes.
MIDN Abigail Ward (the youngest member of the Mess) and ADM Bill Studeman (the oldest) cut the cake together as RADM Vernazza and VADM Aeschbach (not pictured) look on.
Ms. Vice crowns the Bull Ensign, ENS James Mowen.
Parading the Beef…
The captains…sentenced to singing “All I Want for Christmas is You.”
Senior leaders sentenced to singing “YMCA”…
The iBOSS, VADM Aeschbach (right) with ENS George Yang (left) and IWTC-VB Commanding Officer, CDR John Copeland.