Whidbey Island training unit skipper strives for servant leadership
Every morning at 0800 hours (8 a.m.), Cmdr. Rodney Moss, commanding officer of the Center for Naval Aviation Technical Training Unit (CNATTU) at NAS Whidbey Island, observes morning colors as his team of sailors and Marines puts up three flags: the American flag, the POW/MIA flag to remember “those who’ve gone before us,” and the Energy Conservation Award flag earned by the unit.
And every Friday morning, they participate in morning colors together as an entire command. “There’s nothing more patriotic to see,” said Moss. “It’s my chance to shake hands with all 126 instructors and civilians, and have an opportunity for senior leadership to be visible.”
Moss took command of the CNATTU in December, after serving as the unit’s executive officer for 18 months. The unit offers nearly 90 training courses in everything from senior enlisted aviation maintenance to micro miniature repair of aviation circuit boards to flight deck firefighting training for the Navy’s P-3 and Growler communities. That includes the flight deck crews from Bremerton and Everett.
“Most of our 4,000 students come from Pensacola, Florida, for training for anything from a one-day class to a seven-month-long course,” explained Moss.
Making the move from executive officer to commanding officer is a shift for the genial Moss, who marked 31 years in the Navy on Dec. 27, 2015. “Some people change dramatically when they’re put in charge and gain power,” said Moss. “You need to be grounded in who you are. I may have changed offices, but I have to get out and let people here know I haven’t changed.”
Moss, who is pursuing his master’s degree in organizational leadership (M.A.O.L.) at Brandman University’s Whidbey Island campus, believes in servant leadership: sharing power while putting the needs of others first, and helping them perform at high levels.
He’s active in the community as a member of the music and dance team at the Living Faith Christian Center in Oak Harbor. Moss laughs as he describes the dance team that includes teenagers, plus two men over age 40. “We’ve got some moves,” he said.
Moss, his wife, Monica, and his son Micah, also volunteer at the Elks Club on Thanksgiving, helping prepare dinner for 3,200 people. His first year, Moss started out sweeping and cleaning up. Then the founding members introduced him to a new role.
“They’ve kept me busy for the past two Thanksgivings deep-frying those turkeys,” said Moss. “I am proud to have learned from the best and to have the opportunity to serve the community.”
Brandman’s M.A.O.L. program has given Moss the opportunity to refine his leadership capabilities, helping him put his unit in the spotlight. He applies papers written for class to his command. One included ways to conserve energy, which cut the unit’s energy bill by $91,000 and resulted in the energy conservation award. You can hear the pride in Moss’ voice when he describes another award for his unit: second place for the Captain’s Cup for health and fitness. And the unit just received an honorable mention for the Navy’s 2015 Community Service Environmental Stewardship Flagship Award.
“Most people view shore duty as kicking back from their time at sea,” explained Moss. “I view it as a time for people to get their education, spend time with their family and improve performance. If we’re doing everything we can, it impacts every sailor and helps boost morale.”
Moss is set to graduate in May with his master’s degree, and will next complete Defense Acquisition Level II/III which is required for his role as commanding officer. But there’s no doubt Moss is leaving his mark on the CNATTU as a servant leader. “People want to be here,” he said. “They like to do their jobs, and you can feel it.”
This story first appeared in NW Navy Life.
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