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Year of the Captains & Colonels: CAPT Milton W. Troy, III, SC, USN

Year of the Captains & Colonels: CAPT Milton W. Troy, III, SC, USN

Message to NNOA President & Members:

“With over 25 years of service, the best advice I have been given was from a retired Master Chief from the Vietnam War era who happened to be an advisor at my NROTC Unit; “Everything in life is either a lesson or a blessing.”  Whether professionally or personally, approach every endeavor with that in mind so that you have the right perspective when facing a challenge head on.  Furthermore, in the words of Edgar Albert Guest from his famous poem, “See It Through,” it is important to always remember that when challenges come, “Running from it will not save you, See it through!”  In doing so, cultivate and leverage the connections made through trusted peers and mentors to help enhance your technical competence and revalidate the uncompromising character our Navy and our nation demand of you.  Finally, hold fast to your sources of inspiration that come from your family and your chosen spiritual path.  This form of mental wellness will keep you in fighting trim.  Cherishing all of these elements of my life have made all the difference.”

Year of the Captains & Colonels: CAPT Lexia M. Littlejohn, USCG

Year of the Captains & Colonels: CAPT Lexia M. Littlejohn, USCG

Leadership Lessons

  1. Innovate: Lean forward, think outside the box, and capitalize on opportunities to evolve.
  2. There’s Power in Positivity: Let’s face it- everyone has their off days. Don’t let your crew see yours. Your team will feed off your energy, good or bad, so never underestimate the power of a positive attitude.
  3. Lean Into Challenges: Step out of your comfort zone and take on constructive challenges. If you’re feeling that little pit in the bottom of your stomach, that’s exactly the level of discomfort that you should be feeling and it means that you’re doing it right.
  4. Face-to-Face Interaction: Get out from behind the desk and talk to your crew. Meet them where they are and get to know their names and their stories. The best leaders make the time to be present.
  5. Communicate from the Heart, Not the Paper: People zone out when a presenter reads from a prepared slide or script. This is even more true as a leader. There’s a distinction between speaking and communicating, so once you know the subject matter, put down the notes and allow for two-way communications between you and your audience.
  6. Readiness is Key to Excellence: Proficiency requires meticulous preparation. Focus on your team’s readiness to perform the mission and excellence will follow.
  7. Invest in self, family, shipmates, and community. If you like airplane analogies, you have to put your own mask on before helping others. Invest in your own well-being so that you have ample energy to give to all of those that are counting on you.


CAPT Lexia Littlejohn currently serves as the Sector Commander for Sector Buffalo where she oversees 1,200 active duty, reserve, and Auxiliary members in conducting Coast Guard operations across Lakes Erie and Ontario including the Niagara River and Niagara Falls, a portion of the St. Lawrence Seaway, 570 miles of shoreline across 3 states, and 455 miles of international maritime border.

Previously, CAPT Littlejohn served as the Deputy Commander for Sector Key West where she led a multi-agency team of more than 400 responders and 40 assets in conducting over 100 rescues and effecting salvage operations to reopen the Port of Key West following Hurricane Irma. CAPT Littlejohn’s other assignments have included advising Senators on Coast Guard and maritime security issues as a Coast Guard Fellow for the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, formulating the Coast Guard’s $1.4 billion counterdrug budget, and leading a team in the production of over 300 interviews, press releases, and news conferences, which earned her unit the Commander Jim Simpson Award (the Coast Guard’s highest award for public affairs).

CAPT Littlejohn has responded to numerous marine oil spills and spoken at domestic and international pollution conferences on complex incident response. In 2013, CAPT Littlejohn received the Coast Guard Innovation Award’s honorable mention for her crisis management database that improved operational readiness for major contingencies. Her other military awards include two Meritorious Service Medals and seven Coast Guard Commendation Medals.

CAPT Littlejohn holds a B.S. in Marine and Environmental Sciences from the Coast Guard Academy and M.S. and Engineer degrees in Civil and Environmental Engineering from Stanford University. She is the second African American female in Coast Guard history to reach the rank of Captain and the first to command a Sector. CAPT Littlejohn is married to Conor Heelan of the Republic of Ireland and they have three children, Kaia (9), Kasey (8), and Ciara (4).

Year of the Captains & Colonels:  Colonel Ahmed Williamson, USMC

Year of the Captains & Colonels: Colonel Ahmed Williamson, USMC

Message to NNOA President & Members:

First of all, I am humbled and thrilled to be recognized with this great honor.  I acknowledge that I am the beneficiary of active and engaged leadership, mentorship, and advocacy throughout my career.  I have devoted my life to a career of service and have desired the opportunity to impact the naval services; to that end, I have always kept myself open to learning from those who have come before me.  Especially because of their personal and engaged commitment to me, I count it an obligation as well as an honor to share the lessons that I have learned along these many years.

Leadership Philosophy

The following principles describe my leadership philosophy and influence the way that I think.  These principles ultimately affect how I perceive and approach issues as a leader.  Whenever I join a new team (whether in command or a member of a branch/division on a staff), I share that my leadership approach lends towards “challenging” the team to run hard and fast by setting and maintaining a good PACE.

The acrostic PACE reflects my approach towards leading, motivating, and encouraging high-level performance (Professionalism, Accountability, Character, Excellence, Esprit de Corps):

  • ProfessionalismProfessionalism is the quality of knowing, performing and representing your craft at the highest level.  Professional athletes and entertainers, as well as business, medical, and legal professionals are at the top of their game.  Likewise, I expect our team to reflect and enforce standards of performance, appearance and conduct commensurate with the Pros .  Senior leaders, including myself, must embody this first – leadership by example!
  • AccountabilityAccountability includes being answerable for every facet of performance within our area of responsibility – it means to be responsible for everyone and everything in your sphere of influence.  We must take ownership of our personal and professional responsibilities; be accountable for our actions and the actions of our Marines and expect the same from each Marine.
  • CharacterCharacter is comprised of the moral and mental qualities of who we really are when you think no one is watching.  I expect that our Marines are people of personal and professional integrity, demonstrating our core values in all that we do.  I expect our Marines to be people of strong moral character and that we will do the right thing because it is the right thing to do, regardless of the impact.
  • ExcellenceExcellence is doing the best that we can, with what we have, all of the time – it is providing an exceptional work product, and always challenging ourselves to do better.  I expect our Marines to endeavor towards excellence; that they never accept mediocrity or pursue the path of least resistance, but require outstanding performance and quality work from their Marines.
  • Esprit de CorpsMorale that is positively affected by quality leadership, training, values, loyalty, pride, and camaraderie among members of a unit describes esprit de corps.  I expect our Marines to embody and elicit a high sense of esprit de corps, positively affecting every Marine within their sphere of influence, ultimately infecting the entire command, and creating an environment that fosters an attitude of success.

Words of Wisdom – Will’s Be-Attitudes

What follows are a few nuggets of wisdom that I have learned along my 26 year journey in the Marine Corps and overall 30 year experience within the naval service.  I freely share these maxims with other mentees, juniors, or anyone who would listen…feel free to do with them what you want.  What follows are principles that I have learned, initiated, and have worked for me during my Marine Corps experience.  More importantly, I implore you to read each of the nuggets as a prompter to your own personal introspection – evaluate who you are today, what immediate impacts you can make in your immediate environment, and who you are striving to become into the future.

  • Be a consummate Professional – Seek technical, tactical, personal, and professional thoroughness…carry yourself well, know your job and perform at a high level.
  • Be humble and maintain a teachable spirit– you should be learning and growing all of the time.
  • Be committed to development — Every experience is a learning experience…every opportunity is a teaching opportunity
  • Be a genuine, compassionate, concerned leader – Seek to positively affect the lives of and maximize the experience of your Marines…it’s fine to LOVE your Marines.
  • Be willing to empower your Marines – Give them the authority to make significant decision…TRUST them and allow them room to grow.
  • Be open and honest when sharing your perspectives on issues…Marines have tough skin
  • Be an active participant in your command – Be visible, accessible, and engaged…no wallflowers.
  • Be prepared to set priorities and give guidance…If everything is important, then nothing is important.
  • Be calm and make course corrections – Make adjustments necessary to hit the target…if you screw up, clean it up.
  • Be an active mentor and seek a mentor…Each Marine should be better off in the end
  • Be eager to exhibit a Positive Mental Attitude (PMA)…motivation is infectious – so is negativity.
  • Be a teamplayer and find ways to say “Yes”…it doesn’t take any energy, thought, or work for “No”
  • Be proud and loyal…never bring discredit upon the nation, the Marine Corps, or family.
  • Be mindful of your brand – Build and protect your personal brand…social media and poor relationships can erase a lifetime of hard work.
  • Be mindful to enjoy the ride — Maximize your Marine Corps experience and enjoy every tour…your family is also along for this ride with you or they won’t be with you in the end.
  • Be laser-focused on the mission – Marines have built our legacy on Winning Battles (Warriors) and Making Marines (Leaders)


Colonel Williamson is an Active Duty Marine, currently assigned as the Military Assistant to the Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps.  He recently completed an assignment as the Commanding Officer of the Marine Corps Officer Candidates School (OCS) in Quantico, Virginia.  The mission of OCS is to educate and train officer candidates in Marine Corps knowledge and skills in order to evaluate and screen individuals for the leadership, moral, mental, and physical qualities required for commissioning as a Marine Corps officer.  Colonel Williamson was responsible for leading the team that develops the next generation of Marine Corps officer leaders.

Colonel Williamson is originally from Upper Marlboro, Maryland.  Having achieved academic, athletic, and leadership success through his high school and college career, and positively influenced by his family’s military lineage, he decided to serve the nation in the armed forces.  Colonel Williamson attended the U.S. Naval Academy (USNA) in Annapolis, Maryland – USNA is the Department of the Navy’s undergraduate university which focuses its curriculum in Science and Engineering.  Upon graduation in 1994, he earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Computer Science.

Colonel Williamson was commissioned a Second Lieutenant in the Marine Corps on May 25, 1994.  That same year, he reported to Quantico, Virginia where he attended The Basic School to learn the fundamental leadership and tactical skills necessary to perform as a Marine officer.  Then he attended follow on instruction at the Basic Communication Officer Course to receive specialized training as a Communication and Information Systems Officer.

Colonel Williamson has completed over 26 years of active duty service in the Marine Corps.  During those years, he has performed duties in several different capacities and traveled throughout the world, participating in a myriad of combat operations, contingency missions, and training exercises.  He has completed assignments as a commander and leader of tactical military units and has also served with larger commands as a staff officer responsible for planning and coordinating broader military operations.  As a Communications and Information Systems Officer, Colonel Williamson was responsible for designing and supervising the installation, operation, and defense of radio, telephone, satellite, data communications, and cyber networks in support of Marine and Joint forces.  In his role as a Marine Corps Officer, Colonel Williamson is charged to train and lead Marines to accomplish essential military tasks.

Colonel Williamson is a Distinguished Graduate of the Naval Postgraduate School, having earned a Masters Degree in Management in 2000.  In 2002, Colonel Williamson attended the Expeditionary Warfare School in Quantico.  Upon graduation, Colonel Williamson was honored as a Distinguished Graduate and selected to receive the Colonel Donald C. Cook Award for excellence in the Command, Control and Communications field.  In 2009, Colonel Williamson attended the Marine Corps Command & Staff College, earning a Masters of Military Studies Degree and achieving honors as a Distinguished Graduate.  Additionally, Colonel Williamson was selected to serve as a Secretary of Defense Corporate Fellow to Microsoft Corp; he was allowed to gain a unique and valuable experience outside the traditional senior service school path by training with corporate America to learn and share organizational and operational competencies with private industry.  Colonel Williamson was awarded the Federal Forum 2015 Breaking the Status Quo Award for recognition as a Federal leader who has developed and operationalized innovative strategies with Information and Cyber technologies.

Colonel Williamson currently resides in Arlington, Virginia with his wife and youngest teenage daughter – they also have two adult children.  His personal and professional experiences have motivated him to educate, inspire, and assist others to actualize their true leadership potential.  He has coupled academic knowledge with practical experience to conduct several seminars and presentations on achieving individual and organizational success.  Additionally, as an active member of the community, Colonel Williamson regularly serves as a mentor, counselor, and youth worker with several philanthropic organizations.  His desire is to see every young person meet their fullest potential by passionately pursing a life of purpose.