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Sailors celebrate Camp Lejeune captain's 'wetting down'

The weather may have changed the ceremony, but it didn’t change its meaning.

In a small gathering held recently along the pier at Marston Pavilion aboard Camp Lejeune, Navy Cmdr. Julie Green was promoted to the coveted rank of captain — a rank less than 3 percent of Naval officers attain.

Due to the temperature of the water, the newly promoted captain was not ceremoniously tossed into the salt water while wearing her uniform as is tradition.

Instead, Green held the shoulder boards from her dress uniform in hand while her family poured sea water over the top of them, symbolically making her more “salty.

“As the water poured over my shoulder boards, I couldn’t help but think about how proud I am to be a Navy officer,” Green said. “There are several important reasons why this ceremony took place. It shows people that with hard work comes success and reward. It is also important to remember where we came from. Our traditions and Naval heritage are important. Most of all, it is important to show that we aren’t doctors in the Navy, we are Naval doctors.”

Green, a general surgeon with an undersea medicine specialty — one of her many responsibilities at Naval Hospital Camp Lejeune , said she couldn’t help but think of all the sailors throughout her career who helped her get where she is today. As she gets ready to head to a new command next year, she said she hopes she can recognize other sailors’ hard work and continue to contribute to the Navy.

“I always hoped I would be promoted to captain, but it wasn’t something that I lived for,” Green said. “I just lived to do a good job and that has led me to loving my Navy career. … Aside from doing my job, all I aspire to do is inspire and encourage others. If I were to know that I had inspired someone to follow in my footsteps it would be beyond validating.” Little did Green know, she already had. A junior sailor in the crowd said she found not only strength in the captain’s service but a desire to serve within the Navy’s medical corps.

According to hospital apprentice Jessica Franklin, Green’s accomplishments cemented the notion that anything is possible regardless of gender.

“As I was watching the ceremony, it made me imagine how incredible it would be for me to graduate medical school and earn a commission in the Navy,” Franklin said. “Because of her, I realized that making that dream a reality is possible for me to do.”

Franklin said the “wetting down” ceremony is one of many Navy traditions that need to be passed down to help “keep sailors motivated” and inspire others to pursue similar merits.

The ceremony, she said, wasn’t about what rank you wear, but rather that all ranks came together to celebrate with the new captain.

The new captain’s mother, Marcia Tuttle, said she always knew Green would succeed as a Navy doctor, no matter how challenging it would prove to be.

“She’s wanted to be a doctor all of her life, and she took it upon herself to make her dream come true,” said Tuttle, who was brought to tears by the “beautiful” ceremony. “That takes true character, honor and integrity. Her being promoted to captain is probably the greatest honor for me because of who she truly is.”

Navy Capt. David Lane, the commanding officer of Naval Hospital Camp Lejeune, said the ceremony was important for the sailors within his command to see because of how few Naval officers are promoted to captain. The promotion, according to Lane, isn’t recognition for what Green has done in the past but rather to show faith that she will succeed in the future.

“We want people to see that there is something special about being an officer and that there is something special about being a Naval officer,” Lane said. “We could have done this in a back room somewhere, but we wanted this to be a special moment — a moment that inspires sailors to be all that they can be regardless of what rank they hold.”

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