You were born at Fort Benning, Ga., to an Army veteran. Why Navy?

I saw firsthand what a war will do to you. My father was changed significantly by the experience in Vietnam, and that didn’t make me too keen on the Army. I wanted to get out and see the world. I could have done that to some degree with the other services, but I was convinced (partly by a very “informative” recruiter) that the seagoing Navy was going to afford me more of that opportunity than the other services. Being a Star Trek fan, I wanted to boldly go where no man (or Lutman) had gone before. The Navy sure delivered on that promise!

We hear you used to be a country-western DJ.

I used to be a DJ at a local community station here in Yokosuka for five years. FM 78.5 Blue Shonan. My wife has been volunteering there for over 10 years with her R&B show. She introduced me to the station manager, who was trying to generate more interest in country music. Being an ex-rodeo bum, she asked me to do a guest spot on a country-and-western oldies show. I did another one, then another and soon found myself producing the show.

Do they call you “Viper” on the air waves?

No, I got that nickname while I was assigned to Naval Leader Training Unit Coronado. A fellow senior chief and I had somewhat contrasting leadership styles. He tended to give off more warning signs if you were rubbing him the wrong way before he finally had enough and would make his displeasure known. His nickname was “Rattler.” I tended to advance from calm to irritated at a much faster clip. They said I would strike without warning sometimes, hence the nickname “Viper.”

What separates good and great leaders?

First off, good and great are degrees of doing the right thing in the first place — walking the talk and being accountable, as well as holding others accountable. Talk is cheap, and too many people burn up oxygen bumping their gums when the great leaders are getting it done by setting the example.They take care of their sailors, they deliver on their promises, and they don’t convene the chain-of-blame.

We also hear you had a short-lived stint as the Navy’s enlisted “Old Tar.”

The “Old Tar” is an active-duty sailor with the oldest Enlisted Surface Warfare Specialist qualification in the Navy. My ESWS qualification was awarded Nov. 21, 1982. I had been advised that I was the reigning “Old Tar.” U.S. 7th Fleet Command Master Chief Ashley Smith, who just recently retired and was the previous Old Tar, delivered the statue of “The Chief” to my office and congratulated me.

And then?

Unfortunately for me, a few more Old Tar applications arrived after the decision had been made and they were postmarked prior to the submission due date. As it turns out, one of the candidates had an ESWS designation date prior to mine. He or she must be REALLY old!

You plan on retiring in December. Then what?

I’ll continue to serve my country by helping to train the fleet here in Yokosuka working with Tactical Training Group Pacific Detachment Yokosuka as a contractor for Novonics Corporation. I will also be more involved at the VFW Post here in Yokosuka, supporting veterans and their families.

Master Chief Mike LutmanAge: 48Title: Command Master Chief, Afloat Training Group, Western PacificCommand: Yokosuka Naval Base

Pacific readers: Know someone whose accomplishments, talents, job, hobby, volunteer work, awards or good deeds qualify them for 15 minutes of fame? How about someone whose claim to glory is a bit out of the ordinary — even, dare we say, oddball? Call Paul Newell at Stars and Stripes with the person’s name and contact information at DSN 229-3158 or e-mail him at:

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