Faces of the Supply Corps … The Success of Mentorship

Almost everyone I meet wants to know, “How did you come up with calling yourself Judy?” My family immigrated to America from Vietnam

Lt. Judy Luong, SC, USN, Supply Officer, USS Leyte Gulf (CG 55)

Lt. Judy Luong, SC, USN, Supply Officer, USS Leyte Gulf (CG 55)

25 years ago. My given name, Kha Tu, means “elegant and warm-hearted.” It was NOT a good fit in an Orange County, California, school. I needed an American name, so I named myself after my favorite author – Judy Blume. I come from an old-fashioned Vietnamese family and was brought up to cultivate five traits: work hard, be respectful, be considerate, be honest, and be appreciative. These mantras guide me daily, and have brought me from Storekeeper Seaman Recruit to Cruiser Supply Officer (SUPPO).

My naval career started in August 1999 at Recruit Training Command, Great Lakes, Illinois, followed by Storekeeper “A” School in Meridian, Mississippi. My first duty station was Military Sealift Command Office, Diego Garcia, British Indian Ocean Territory. Contrary to popular belief, I discovered that the island was paradise and enjoyed the clear blue water and outdoor activities such as biking, running, kayaking, and deep sea fishing offered by Morale, Welfare and Recreation. My follow-on duty stations were USNS Spica (T-AFS 9) and USNS Concord (T-AFS 5), Guam; Commander Task Force 53, Manama, Bahrain; Naval Special Warfare Group Two – Logistics and Support Unit Two, Norfolk, Virginia. While at LOGSU 2, I attended college classes at night and received my bachelor of arts in psychology and intended to separate from the Navy to pursue a graduate degree. I tossed around the idea of applying for a commissioning program and had numerous discussions with my division officers and department head, now Lt. Cmdr. Shannon Walker and Lt. Cmdr. Kerry Baker and Cmdr. Bill Murray and retired Cmdr. Curtis Irby. The deciding factor in my decision to pursue a commission as a Supply Corps officer was through an insightful heart-to heart talk and strong encouragement from my then commanding officer, now Capt. Bob Gantt. I attribute my success to aforementioned mentors who always believed in me.

After completing Officer Candidate School and the Basic Qualification Course, my first Afloat Division Officer assignments were Wardroom Officer and Stock Control Officer on Pre-Commissioning Unit George H. W. Bush (CVN 77), built in Newport News, Virginia. USS George H. W. Bush was commissioned to the Fleet in January 2009, during which the Supply Department earned the ship’s first Supply Blue “E” Award for Logistics Excellence. I was then selected for the Integrated Logistics Support Internship at Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command, San Diego, California. I continued studies and qualified Level II in Life Cycle Logistics through the Defense Acquisition Workforce Improvement Act, and completed the Business Resources Management Program at the University of Virginia, Darden School of Business.

These days, my mornings begin at 0430. While SUPPO life is demanding, I take great pride in sharing my Sailors’ spirit, exceptional achievements, and ability to tackle any challenge together. My team just successfully concluded an outstanding seven-month deployment where we served as the Standing North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Maritime Group 2 Flagship, completing 17 port visits and working side-by-side with Supply officers from Spain, Germany, Canada, Turkey, and Portugal through numerous major NATO exercises. My Sailors excelled with 11 petty officer advancements, two Blue Jackets of the Quarter, one Junior Sailor of the Quarter, three Sailors of the Quarter, one Sailor of the Year. I truly serve next to the best of the best that our country has to offer.

I am married to a fellow Supply Corps officer who I met at a Supply Corps function at Petco Park in San Diego. I highly recommend single junior officers attend all Supply Corps functions! Our relationship isn’t based on work, but it’s a nice bonus that I don’t have to explain my day too in depth; he just gets it. On a good day, you’ll find us at a local CrossFit gym or on a run. Staying active is the key to our marriage.

Throughout my time in the Supply community, I’ve come to greatly appreciate the camaraderie and support. Every step of the way, from E1 to O3, Supply Corps officers have been supportive and open. A lot of officers say their door is always open but for a Supply Corps officer those aren’t idle words, they’re at the core of our leadership. I’ve never come in contact with a Supply Corps officer, no matter how senior, who wasn’t welcoming, accessible, and helpful. Without this support I wouldn’t be where I am today. If I have one piece of advice to offer, it’s to reach out. Ask for advice and let people know what you want in your career, you have nothing to lose and lots of doors to open.

Overall, I am forever grateful for the opportunities the Supply Corps has provided, an inspirational group of mentors then and now who are still only an email, a text or phone call away. They have pushed me to work hard, be respectful, be considerate, be honest and be appreciative. It’s now my mission to pay it forward every day and to bring out the best in my Sailors, recognize their potential, and develop the next generation of leaders. That’s what being in the Supply Corps is all about.

By Lt. Judy Luong, SC, USN, Supply Officer, USS LEYTE GULF (CG 55)