Guest Blog by Dennis Hall: MERGE4 Founder and CEO’s Embark to the USS Nimitz

Our CEO, Cindi Busenhart, was lucky enough to be nominated by Dennis Hall to the US Navy’s Distinguished Visitors Program. As part of the program, Cindi was invited for a tour on the USS Nimitz aircraft carrier and even earned her patch by getting catapulted off a C-2 Greyhound COD! Read David’s guest blog post, recounting this awesome experience below.

About Dennis Hall’s Thunderbirds! sock:

Dennis Hall and master watercolor artist David Lobenberg’s Thunderbirds! socks feature Lobenberg's painting titled "Ambassadors in Blue" featuring the United States Air Force Thunderbirds air-demonstration team. Stars and rockets ablaze, these socks depict over 70 years of Air Force history and highlight the United States Air Force ‘Ambassadors in Blue’. You can find Dennis Hall’s Thunderbirds! here.

On July 11th, 2019, Cindi embarked with the US Navy to the USS Nimitz aircraft carrier underway in the Pacific Ocean and returned to shore on July 12th, 2019 after spending the night aboard the aircraft carrier underway.

I provide you here information on the backstory of how her adventure came to be through Guy Kawasaki and me, and supportive photographs.

Her adventure is part of my nearly 30 years of pro bono contributions to the US military public affairs organizations of all branches in nominating civilians to experience military life first-hand. I do it as a give-back to the military. Over the 30 years I have developed a strong network of people who recommend candidates for nomination. Guy Kawasaki is one of those people.

My nominations took a major shot in the arm during 2008 when I nominated Guy Kawasaki to embark. The Navy selected Guy from my nomination and he embarked out to the USS John C. Stennis aircraft carrier. Guy and I got acquainted in June 2001 via his speaking engagement at the Silicon Valley Asia Connection event. I came to Silicon Valley for this event because at the time I managed 110 law enforcement jurisdictions in California and wanted to explore technology as a way of eliminating drunk driving offenders who were on either probation or parole. Guy and I developed a technology endeavor to meet my vision and it worked. The technology for monitoring probationers and parolees fielded during 2004. Through that project we called Watch Your Step because the technology was literally imbedded in wrist watches.

When Guy returned to shore after his aircraft carrier embark, we got together. He said to me, ‘The Navy should send a whole planeload of bloggers out to the aircraft carrier.’ Hence was born my pivot to focusing on social media and using bloggers to advance awareness of our military by going on embarks. Guy and I a year later, in 2009 led a group of 15 bloggers on an overnight embark to the USS Nimitz aircraft carrier underway. Since then, I have asked Guy for recommendations of women to nominate. In 2019 he recommended Cindi. I reached out to her and she accepted the opportunity. I nominated her and the Navy selected her.

Her Navy and USMC adventure began on July 10, 2019 when she participated in the icebreaker with several of her new shipmates. The icebreaker served to allow Cindi to get acquainted with people whom she would have a most remarkable adventure with over the next two days. The icebreaker makes it easier to communicate with each other when aboard ship because you’re acquainted at the very least.

The first day of the Distinguished Visitors embark begins with gathering at Naval Air Station North Island near San Diego. The Navy and US Marine Corps personnel with US Navy Third Fleet Public Affairs greet the group and provide a briefing on the scope of the military, the Navy and USMC, and the imminent adventure. Then the crew of the Navy C-2 Greyhound twin-turboprop transport conduct a pre-flight briefing. The Navy C-2 Greyhound is known as a Carrier On Board Delivery aircraft or COD. The group walks out to the C-2 on the tarmac wearing helmets and vests and board via the rear ramp to seats. The loadmaster straps each one in tightly, as an abrupt, stressful tailhook landing awaits the passengers upon arrival to the aircraft carrier.

The flight out to the carrier lasts less than an hour and concludes with the abrupt tailhook landing on the ship’s stern. The group deplanes and heads inside the aircraft carrier to a greeting from the Commanding Officer and staff. That begins a day of touring lasting well into the night. The following morning the group gathers for breakfast and does more touring. Then the group boards the C-2 Greyhound COD to be catapult launched off the bow to fly back to land at the Naval Air Station North Island. 

Anchors Aweigh!

Dennis Hall

MERGE4 Collaborator

Thunderbirds! Socks