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Noxubee Crest

Three Star Noxubee Sea Story
Updated to Four Star


By Steve Corneliussen

Here's a Noxubee sea story that's still under way, over a quarter-century after the ship's decommissioning. (I'm Steve Corneliussen, Noxubee 1972 to 1974.)

Mike Mullen, who commanded Noxubee as a lieutenant from early 1973 to decommissioning in 1975, now wears three stars and is in the process of moving from command of the Second Fleet and the Atlantic Striking Force to a new position as a deputy chief of naval operations.

Bob Riolo (Noxubee 72 to 74, but I also went to school with him in the 60s) told me about the Noxubee Web site, and before I go any further telling about Vice Admiral Mullen, I'd like to quote and agree with what Charlie Mihulka wrote somewhere on the site: "It's a miracle of the computer age that we can reconnect after almost 3 decades, and connect easily. Thank you, webmaster Paul, for creating and managing this site." To that I say, Amen.

If you're like me and Bob, you suspected from pretty much the time Mike came aboard that he was no ordinary naval officer. He was Naval Academy class of 68 -- same class as Marines Ollie North and James Webb (the novelist and secretary of the Navy). So when Mike came to the Noxubee, he hadn't even been out in the fleet for five years.

Well, it turned out the suspicion was right. This was no ordinary naval officer -- and for three decades, the Navy has been smart enough to figure it out.

Mike got an advanced degree. He commanded a guided-missile destroyer. Then, as a four-stripe captain, he commanded the Aegis cruiser Yorktown.

I happened to read about his outgoing Yorktown change of command in the Newport News Daily Press, and so I knew he had gone from there to the Pentagon. In early 1997, I think it was, when Riolo and I were going to be in D.C. at the same time, I sent Mike an e-mail message to suggest getting together.

The message reached him late, because he had already been transferred again. So a few weeks later it catches up to him, and he writes back something like, "Steve! Great to hear from you -- and I'd love to see you and Bob. I'm at sea again, on the George Washington out of Norfolk. Let's get connected!"

At sea on a carrier? I knew he had gone to the Pentagon as a captain. I knew I always thought the Navy should make him an admiral someday. So what was this non-aviator senior officer now doing on an aircraft carrier?

Turns out he failed to mention a minor detail: he was on the carrier because he had been promoted to rear admiral and had been given command of a battle group deploying to keep Sadam Hussein in line. The carrier was his flagship.

After that, he was in Washington as the director for surface warfare. Then in 2000, he got his third star and his present job as Commander, Second Fleet, and Commander, Atlantic Striking Force.

Concerning the upcoming move to be deputy CNO, the Norfolk Virginian-Pilot conjectured that maybe Mike would rather stay in the fleet Navy. I don't know. But I do know this: I always thought that sometimes the Navy didn't seem to get the picture, and I always wondered if it would get the picture about Mike.

Looks like it did.

Anyway, I thought people might find this still-unfolding Noxubee sea story interesting, so there it is.

Thanks again, Paul, for re-connecting old Navy friends. I'm a science writer nowadays in Poquoson, Virginia, near Hampton. Riolo pretty much writes his own tickets as some kind of big-shot in the restaurant and wine businesses out West. He has a good time, and his waist is about half the size of mine. Since the mid-70s, I've run into John Bushore once, Mike Derrig once or twice, Chiefs Clements and Van Riper once or twice, and Dave and Terry Dennis last year because of Mike and Deborah Mullen.

It's great to have this Web site. I hope people post more news.

(Note to Ron Coneybeer: Why haven't I seen you in a bar scene in a Western like you always said?)

Here's a Noxubee sea story that's still under way, over a quarter-century after the ship's decommissioning. (I'm Steve Corneliussen, Noxubee 1972 to 1974.) Mike Mullen, who commanded Noxubee as a lieutenant from early 1973 to decommissioning in 1975, now wears three stars and is in the process of moving from command of the Second Fleet and the Atlantic Striking Force to a new position as a deputy chief of naval operations. Bob Riolo (Noxubee 72 to 74, but I also went to school with him in the 60s) told me about the Noxubee Web site, and before I go any further telling about Vice Admiral Mullen, I'd like to quote and agree with what Charlie Mihulka wrote somewhere on the site: "It's a miracle of the computer age that we can reconnect after almost 3 decades, and connect easily. Thank you, webmaster Paul, for creating and managing this site." To that I say, Amen. If you're like me and Bob, you suspected from pretty much the time Mike came aboard that he was no ordinary naval officer. He was Naval Academy class of 68 -- same class as Marines Ollie North and James Webb (the novelist and secretary of the Navy). So when Mike came to the Noxubee, he hadn't even been out in the fleet for five years. Well, it turned out the suspicion was right. This was no ordinary naval officer -- and for three decades, the Navy has been smart enough to figure it out. Mike got an advanced degree. He commanded a guided-missile destroyer. Then, as a four-stripe captain, he commanded the Aegis cruiser Yorktown. I happened to read about his outgoing Yorktown change of command in the Newport News Daily Press, and so I knew he had gone from there to the Pentagon. In early 1997, I think it was, when Riolo and I were going to be in D.C. at the same time, I sent Mike an e-mail message to suggest getting together. The message reached him late, because he had already been transferred again. So a few weeks later it catches up to him, and he writes back something like, "Steve! Great to hear from you -- and I'd love to see you and Bob. I'm at sea again, on the George Washington out of Norfolk. Let's get connected!" At sea on a carrier? I knew he had gone to the Pentagon as a captain. I knew I always thought the Navy should make him an admiral someday. So what was this non-aviator senior officer now doing on an aircraft carrier? Turns out he failed to mention a minor detail: he was on the carrier because he had been promoted to rear admiral and had been given command of a battle group deploying to keep Sadam Hussein in line. The carrier was his flagship. After that, he was in Washington as the director for surface warfare. Then in 2000, he got his third star and his present job as Commander, Second Fleet, and Commander, Atlantic Striking Force. Concerning the upcoming move to be deputy CNO, the Norfolk Virginian-Pilot conjectured that maybe Mike would rather stay in the fleet Navy. I don't know. But I do know this: I always thought that sometimes the Navy didn't seem to get the picture, and I always wondered if it would get the picture about Mike. Looks like it did. Anyway, I thought people might find this still-unfolding Noxubee sea story interesting, so there it is. Thanks again, Paul, for re-connecting old Navy friends. I'm a science writer nowadays in Poquoson, Virginia, near Hampton. Riolo pretty much writes his own tickets as some kind of big-shot in the restaurant and wine businesses out West. He has a good time, and his waist is about half the size of mine. Since the mid-70s, I've run into John Bushore once, Mike Derrig once or twice, Chiefs Clements and Van Riper once or twice, and Dave and Terry Dennis last year because of Mike and Deborah Mullen. It's great to have this Web site. I hope people post more news. (Note to Ron Coneybeer: Why haven't I seen you in a bar scene in a Western like you always said?)

Story Update 10/10/03

In May, 2003 Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld announced that President Bush has made the following nomination:

"Navy Vice Adm. Michael G. Mullen for appointment to the rank of admiral with assignment as vice chief of Naval Operations, Washington, D.C. Mullen is currently serving as deputy chief of Naval Operations for Resources, Requirements and Assessments, N8, Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, Washington, D.C."

Admiral Mullen's nomination was approved by Congress and he assumed his current duties as Vice Chief of Naval Operations on August 28, 2003. For more information please read Adm. Mullen's official biography.