By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class (SW/AW/IW) Lawrence Davis, Navy Region Southeast Reserve Component Command Fort Worth Public Affairs
Navy Operational Support Center Harlingen Sailors recently illustrated an embodiment of that mantra. During one of the command’s first on-site drill weekends since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, Gunner’s Mate 1st Class Luis Cano and Operations Specialist 2nd Class Pedro SanchezMelendez coordinated a major win for their team in implementing an ingenious way to safely facilitate mission-essential general military training (GMT) to more than 165 drilling Selected Reservists (SELRES) and staff members. They used the tried and true method of FM radio.
“GM1 Cano came up with the idea of doing the training like a drive-in movie theater and I loved the idea,” said SanchezMelendez, the command’s training coordinator.
“I did a little research and found a contact for a telecommunications and information organization,” he explained. “I spoke to someone through email about what would be required to broadcast on the radio. I bought an FM transmitter, which sends a signal to your designated radio station. We tested it, found an available station and ensured we would not interfere with any existing broadcasts, and were able to get a good feed.”
In a parking lot SanchezMelendez described as having a perimeter of around 300 yards, SELRES and staff members were able to tune in to the training from the safety of their personally-owned vehicles.
“I thought it was really cool,” said Boatswain’s Mate 3rd Class Anazette Cano, a SELRES Sailor from Pharr, Texas, who was in attendance. “It was kind of like listening to a podcast.”
“It gave us some semblance of normalcy, being able to drill onsite instead of virtually like we had been doing since March,” said Personnel Specialist 2nd Class Gabriel Hernandez, a SELRES Sailor from Edinburg, Texas, also in attendance.
“Our NOSC has been doing a great job at finding ways for us to get our drill time in and stay mission ready,” said Cano.
The four-hour radio training session covered eight GMT topics which included: Sexual Assault Prevention and Response; Cyber Awareness; Counter-Intelligence Awareness; Record Management; Suicide Prevention; Equal Opportunity; Active Shooter; Combating Trafficking in Persons.
“The command gave us an opportunity ahead of drill weekend to volunteer to facilitate one of the briefs which I thought was really helpful for those of us looking for leadership opportunities,” said Hernandez.
SanchezMelendez’s unusual method of delivery for GMTs enabled NOSC Harlingen to complete more than 83 percent of its annual training requirements in a COVID-safe environment.
“As Reservists, maintaining readiness is one of our top priorities,” said SanchezMelendez. “Things change all the time, so it’s up to us, at the NOSC, to adjust and do whatever is required to complete the mission. We remain agile.”
NOSC Harlingen Commanding Officer Lt. Cmdr. Thomas Wright shared his thoughts with regard to the performance of his Sailors in executing a successful drill weekend.
“I have always pushed our Sailors to think outside of the box at NOSC Harlingen,” said Wright. “These times call for innovative and creative thinking. I challenged our Sailors with the safe execution of an all-hands drill weekend event in a COVID-19 environment and this is the solution they presented. To watch our staff move forward, empowered to make decisions, has been nothing short of remarkable. These Sailors make me proud to serve alongside them every single day.”