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News | Aug. 11, 2020

DLA senior enlisted leader retires after 35 years of Navy service

By Beth Reece

Employees, family and friends celebrated the 35-year legacy of care and compassion for fellow service members honed by Defense Logistics Agency Senior Enlisted Leader Navy Command Master Chief Shaun Brahmsteadt in his retirement ceremony at the McNamara Headquarters Complex Aug. 11. 

DLA Director Navy Vice Adm. Michelle Skubic said the 35-year sailor contributed to the climate wherever he served. 

“Besides being the consummate professional in his duties, he connects with people, from the most senior leaders to the newest recruits, civilian and military alike. He is a team builder and a hands-on, approachable leader,” she said.

Brahmsteadt was DLA’s first non-Army senior enlisted leader and served alongside former DLA Director Army Lt. Gen. Darrell K. Williams since July 2017.

“He earned my complete trust and confidence, and I consider myself fortunate to call him a shipmate and battle buddy,” Williams said, adding that the Montague, California, native is a sterling example of noncommissioned officers who serve as the backbone of the U.S. military. 

Brahmsteadt entered the Navy in 1985 as a radioman and reclassified as an information systems technician in 1999. His career included 11 permanent changes of duty station, eight tours at sea spanning almost 14 years on six different ships, and six senior enlisted leader assignments. 

As a senior chief aboard the USS Duluth from 2001 to 2004, Brahmsteadt qualified as officer of the deck, a designation normally reserved for officers responsible for the ship’s navigation and safety. In 2006, he was promoted to master chief petty officer after just 20 years and named the senior enlisted leader for Strike Fighter Squadron 14. He earn the respect of his fellow sailors in the aviation unit by enduring the year-long plane captain qualification, learning to maintain and equip planes before takeoff and after landing. 

After a tour as an instructor at the Naval War College Command Leadership School, Brahmsteadt served as command master chief aboard the USS George Washington based at Yokosuka, Japan. He also served as senior enlisted leader for Naval Air Systems Command before coming to DLA. 

Williams said he relied on Brahmsteadt’s candid advice and feedback. 

“One of the things that I enjoyed most about Shaun was the fact that he was a very mature leader. Having served on the number of ships that he served on in the number of different locations and different deployments, he came with a very mature perspective that is not often found,” he said.

Brahmsteadt said he joined the Navy to see the world and learn a new skill while getting paid. He described a career marked by travels to over a dozen nations and experiences ranging from launching planes off aircraft carriers to shaking dignitaries’ hands. He said he’s proud of leading and developing young sailors, but is most proud of his family.

“I know I missed birthdays, Christmases, Thanksgivings, anniversaries and so much more, but my family has been with me and supported me my entire career,” Brahmsteadt said through tears. 

“I would say the toughest job in the military is not being out there at sea or on the watches. It’s being a military spouse,” he continued. 

Being apart from his wife, Tina, was so difficult in his early career that Brahmsteadt once confided to her that he was thinking of leaving the Navy. 

“She wrote back something that has stuck in my head and stayed with me my entire career. She said, ‘Are you having fun? If so, you are not getting out of the Navy,’” he said, adding that “have fun and work with a smile” became his advice to fellow sailors. 

Of 179 command master chiefs currently serving Navy flag officers, only 32 serve three-star admirals and only five serve in joint commands, Williams said. 

“Of the thousands of sailors who enlist each year, only 1% will become an E-9 and of those who make E-9, only 10% of that 1% will become a command master chief. So that is the level of quality, sacrifice and achievement you are witnessing on this stage today,” he added. 

Brahmsteadt welcomed DLA’s new senior enlisted leader, Army Command Sgt. Maj. Tomeka O’Neal. 

“You’re getting a great team here. They’re professional, dedicated, and they know their mission and why they’re here,” he said. “I ask that you remember and you continue to remind everyone within DLA of what DLA is all about: ensuring warfighters have what they need in support of our country.”