The hardest thing I have done while in command of a deployed unit is tell someone that a member of his or her family has died or is seriously ill or injured. After I delivered the tragic news from the first American Red Cross message, I observed to my command master chief (CMC) that notifying a sailor of the death of a loved one was not covered in the commanding officer’s training track. After the third such message arrived, I resented my increasing familiarity with the process. After the sixth message, I decided to share what I have learned.
The vast majority of prospective commanding officers are good men and women who, being devoted to the welfare of their sailors, could figure this out on their own. That said, I believe in the value of learning by proxy and offer the following recommendations: