Bouganville (LHA 8) Christening Bios

Ellyn Dunford

Mrs. Ellyn S. Dunford

Sponsor, Bougainville (LHA 8) and Spouse of General Joseph F. Dunford, Jr., 19th Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff

Growing up in the Boston area, Mrs. Dunford graduated from Simmons College with a Bachelor of Science degree in Physical Therapy and moved to northern Virginia, where she met her husband, Joe Dunford. They have been married for 39 years, through 22 homes, six states, three children and numerous deployments in peacetime and war.

For almost 30 years, Mrs. Dunford was a practicing physical therapist, working the majority of her time in pediatric care. The practice gave her much insight into issues facing Exceptional Family Member Program (EFMP) families, children with educational special needs, and Wounded Warriors.  Her role from 2015 to 2019 as spouse of the 19th Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff has broadened her exposure to and work with non-profits and government agencies working on behalf of military members and their families.

Mrs. Dunford’s current favorite role is being Nana. Her volunteer efforts include Blue Star Families, the USO, and other military serving groups, and advocating for military families.

Sponsor Kathleen

Mrs. Kathleen Dunford Cicchese 

Matron of Honor, Bougainville (LHA 8) and Daughter of Ellyn Dunford

Kathleen was born in Boston, Massachusetts and was raised with the opportunity to live in many communities and six states as a military child.  She completed her Bachelor of Science degree in Counseling at Lesley University with a specialization in Art Therapy and her Master’s degree in Social Work from Boston College with a certificate in clinical work with veterans and military families.

Kathleen currently works as a Clinical Social Worker providing psychotherapy and case management for military service members, veterans, and their families at a non-profit outpatient clinic in Boston. She resides in the Boston area with her husband Mike. 

Laura Wiegert Photo

Mrs. Laura Wiegert

Matron of Honor, Bougainville (LHA 8) and Sister of Ellyn Dunford 

Laura Sartucci Wiegert was born in Connecticut and raised in the Boston area. She graduated from the University of Miami with a Bachelor’s degree in Biology and a Master of Fine Arts degree in Graphic Design.

After residing in Miami Florida for over 40 years and raising three children there, Laura and her husband Michael retired to Central Florida and are enjoying their new role as grandparents.

Kari 3

Mrs. Kari Wilkinson

President of Ingalls Shipbuilding and Executive Vice President, HII

Kari Wilkinson is Executive Vice President of Huntington Ingalls Industries and President of Ingalls Shipbuilding. Named to this position in April 2021, she is responsible for all programs and operations at Ingalls, including the U.S. Navy’s amphibious assault and surface combatant ship programs and the U.S. Coast Guard’s National Security Cutter program.

Ms. Wilkinson most recently served as the Vice President of Program Management at Ingalls where she had profit and loss responsibility for all elements of program execution and served as the principal liaison to the Navy and Coast Guard for all platforms in the Ingalls portfolio. Ms. Wilkinson began her career with Ingalls as an associate naval architect in 1996. Since then, she has supported major shipbuilding production events and milestones from positions in Engineering, has worked closely with Business Development on requirements and preliminary ship designs for both domestic and international customers, and coordinated the prioritization of equipment and processes in Operations during the Hurricane Katrina recovery effort. In 2007, she moved into the Program Office as a ship program manager within the San Antonio (LPD 17) Class program.

Originally from Jenison, Michigan, Ms. Wilkinson earned a Bachelor of Science degree in naval architecture and marine engineering from the University of Michigan, and an MBA from Temple University. Wilkinson serves on the Boards of Directors for the Mississippi Economic Council, Gulf Coast Business
Council, and the Jackson County Economic Development Foundation. Huntington Ingalls Industries is America’s largest military shipbuilding company and a provider of professional services to partners in government and industry. For more than a century, HII’s Newport News and Ingalls shipbuilding divisions in Virginia and Mississippi have built more ships in more ship classes than any other U.S. naval shipbuilder. HII’s Technical Solutions division provides a wide range of professional services through its Fleet Support, Mission Driven Innovative Solutions, Nuclear & Environmental, and Oil & Gas groups. Headquartered in Newport News, Virginia, HII employs more than 41,000 people operating both domestically and internationally.

Erik Raven

The Honorable Erik Raven

Under Secretary of the Navy

The Honorable Erik K. Raven assumed the responsibilities of the Under Secretary of the Navy on April 13, 2022. He serves as the Department of Navy’s Chief Operating Officer and Chief Management Officer. He is responsible for providing oversight and policy for defense and naval strategy, intelligence and intelligence-related activities, sensitive activities, special access programs, space activities, critical infrastructure, small business programs, and the naval audit service. Additionally, he is responsible for business operations, performance management, and risk management within the Department.

Mr. Raven has served in a variety of legislative senior leadership positions in the federal government. Before his nomination, Mr. Raven was the principal advisor to the Democratic Chairs and Vice-Chairs of the Committee on Appropriations and Subcommittee on Defense on budget matters relating to the Department of Defense and intelligence community. Mr. Raven also served as an advisor in the offices of Senators Feinstein, Kennedy, and Byrd, advising on defense, foreign affairs, homeland security, veterans, space, and transportation policy issues. Mr. Raven holds a master’s degree in the History of International Relations from the London School of Economics, and a Bachelor of Arts in International Relations from Connecticut College.

Major Adams

Major General James Adams III, USMC 

Nominee for Deputy Commandant for Programs and Resources, Headquarters Marine Corps

Major General Adams was assigned to his current position of Deputy Director, Requirements and Capability Development, Joint Staff J-8 in June of 2020. He was commissioned a second lieutenant in 1991, designated a Naval Aviator in 1993, and selected to fly the AH-1W Super Cobra. Major General Adams has extensive operational and tactical experience in the AH-1W, to include deployments aboard amphibious shipping as part of a Marine Expeditionary Unit and combat experience from multiple deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan. As a Lieutenant Colonel, he commanded Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 367, and as a Colonel he commanded Marine Aviation Weapons and Tactics Squadron One.

His staff assignments include MAG-26 Operations Officer; Strategic Assessments Branch Chief, Programs and Resources, HQMC Programs & Resources; Air/Sea Branch Chief, Force Application FCB, Joint Staff, J-8 Directorate; Aviation Plans, Policies, and Budgets Branch Head, HQMC Aviation; Weapons and Tactics Instructor, Marine Aviation Weapons and Tactics Squadron One; as well as various squadron billets in operations, aviation maintenance,
aviation safety and pilot training. He is a school trained Aviation Safety Officer and a Weapons and Tactics Instructor.

Major General Adams graduated from the Naval Academy with a BS in Computer Science in 1991. He was awarded a Master of Science Degree in Joint Campaign Planning and Strategy upon graduation from the Joint Advanced Warfighting School, Norfolk, VA in 2010, and completed the
Harvard Business School Advanced Management Program in 2016. 

Major General Adams has flown more than 3,300 hours in the AH-1, including over 300 combat flight hours. His personal decorations include the Legion of Merit, Bronze Star, the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, the Meritorious Service Medal, the Air Medal, the Navy Commendation Medal, the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal, the Iraqi Campaign Medal, the Global War on Terror Expeditionary Medal, the Global War on Terror Service Medal and the Korean Defense Service Medal. 

He has been happily married to the former Julia Garvin of Jacksonville, FL for 28 years and they have three children, Jessica, Jake, and John.

Admiral Del Crandell

Vice Admiral Del Crandall Jr, USN

Judge Advocate General of the Navy

Vice Adm. “Del” Crandall is a native of Elgin, Illinois. He was commissioned in 1984 through the Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps Program at Northwestern University, where he received a bachelor of arts degree in Economics. As a midshipman he earned silver “Dolphins,” the enlisted submarine warfare qualification, on USS Woodrow Wilson (SSBN 624 GOLD).

His first tour of duty was as a communications officer and anti-submarine warfare officer on USS Lockwood (FF 1064), homeported in Yokosuka, Japan, where he earned his surface warfare officer qualification. While serving as an administrative assistant and aide to the Deputy Chief of Naval Operations (Naval Warfare), Crandall was selected for the law education program. In 1992, he graduated from Georgetown University Law Center, cum laude. In 1999, he received a masters of law degree in international law from George Washington University, with highest honors.

Crandall has completed several assignments within Naval Legal Service Command (NLSC) and the Office of the Judge Advocate General (OJAG). NLSC assignments include defense counsel, prosecutor, and civil law department head at Naval Legal Service Office (NLSO) Northwest Pacific; and, commanding officer of NLSO Central, Pensacola, Florida. OJAG assignments include administrative law attorney; and, deputy executive assistant to the Judge Advocate General. He also served one year in the dual role of Assistant Judge Advocate General (Operations and Management) / Chief of Staff, Region Legal Service Offices.

Crandall’s staff and operational experience include staff judge advocate (SJA) and legal department head on USS Independence (CV 62), homeported in Yokosuka, Japan; deputy legal counsel to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; deputy SJA for Naval Forces Europe; SJA for Sixth Fleet; SJA for U.S. European Command; legal advisor to the Vice Chief of Naval Operations; special counsel to the Chief of Naval Operations; deputy legal advisor to the National Security Council staff; and legal counsel to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Crandall is the 45th judge advocate general of the Navy. Crandall is the principal military legal counsel to the secretary of the Navy and chief of naval operations. He also leads the 2,300 attorneys, enlisted legalmen and civilian employees of the worldwide Navy JAG Corps community.

Crandall is a member of the state bar of Virginia. His personal decorations include the Defense Superior Service Medal (three awards), Legion of Merit (three awards), Defense Meritorious Service Medal (two awards), Meritorious Service Medal (two awards), Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal (four awards), and the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal (two awards).

Admiral Thomas Anderson

Rear Admiral Thomas Anderson, USN

Commander, Naval Sea Systems Command (Acting) 

Rear Adm. Anderson is a native of North Brunswick, New Jersey. He was commissioned in 1991 through the Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps (NROTC) Program at Boston University where he received a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering. Anderson’s tours as a surface warfare officer included USS Capodanno (FF 1093) and USS Arleigh Burke (DDG 51), where he coordinated the first two Chief of Naval Operations availabilities of the DDG 51 Class. Upon selection to the engineering duty community in 1996, he attended the Naval Postgraduate School where he earned a Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering. He also completed the Total Ship Systems Engineering Curriculum and became a California State Licensed Professional Engineer.

Ashore, he has served in a variety of industrial, fleet, program office and headquarters assignments in ship design and construction, maintenance, budgeting, and requirements. His ashore assignments include: Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) executive assistant; Littoral Combat Ship Shipbuilding program manager (PMS 501); Office of the Chief of Naval Operations requirements officer (N86); chief engineer and post-delivery branch head for the DDG 51 Class (PMS 400D); and Commander, Naval Surface Forces, Atlantic, mine warfare type desk officer (N43).

As a flag officer, Anderson served as commander Naval Surface Warfare Center, Department of Defense executive manager for Military Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) Technology and Training, commander Navy Regional Maintenance Center (CNRMC) and Naval Sea Systems Command director Surface Ship Maintenance and Modernization (SEA 21).

Anderson most recently served as program executive officer, Ships, where he was responsible for Navy shipbuilding for surface combatants, amphibious ships, logistics support ships, support craft, and related foreign military sales. Anderson became the acting commander of NAVSEA Sept. 1, 2023. As the acting NAVSEA commander, he oversees a global team responsible for the development, construction, delivery and maintenance of the Navy’s ships, submarines and systems.

Thomas Rivers

Mr. Thomas Rivers

Program Executive Officer, Ships (Acting)

Mr. Thomas Rivers has been in federal service for more than 39 years and entered the Senior Executive Service in September 2020.  He is currently acting as Program Executive Officer, Ships and the Navy’s National Co-Lead for the Program Management Competency domain.

His most recent assignment was the Executive Director for Amphibious, Auxiliary and Sealift programs within Program Executive Office, Ships where he provides executive leadership to more than 200 personnel and oversaw one of the broadest acquisition portfolios in the Navy, including more than $40 billion in complex shipbuilding procurements. His responsibilities comprised five major program offices: U.S. Navy & Foreign Military Sales Boats and Craft Program Office (PMS 300), the Amphibious Assault & Connectors Program Office (PMS 317), the Auxiliary and Special Mission Shipbuilding Program Office (PMS 325), the Amphibious Warfare Program Office (PMS 377), and the Strategic and Theater Sealift Program (PMS 385). Active major programs included the LHA(R), LPD 17, EPF, ESB, T-AO 205, T-AGOS 25 and AS(X) ship classes, as well as Ship to Shore Connector (SSC), Landing Craft, Air Cushion (LCAC), Landing Craft, Utility (LCU), various research/special mission platforms, and service craft/boats.  His duties also include providing executive leadership over Navy efforts supporting USCG and NOAA shipbuilding programs.

Mr. Rivers has served in a variety of key leadership positions throughout his career, including Major Program Manager and Deputy Program Manager within the Amphibious Warfare Program Office (PMS 377) in PEO Ships.  During his tenure (2009-2020), his portfolio included two multi-billion DoD Major Defense Acquisition Programs, LHA(R) and SSC. He led these programs and an ACAT III program through pre-award acquisition milestones, source selection, detail design, construction, testing and delivery.  In addition, he execute life cycle sustainment and modernization programs for the Navy’s fleet of 104 landing craft.  Before leading PMS 377, he was the Principal Assistant Program Manager and Life Cycle Manager for landing craft (2003-2009).  Assignments prior to 2003 include the Director of Production (1998-2002) and the Hull Systems Engineer for the LPD 17 Class (1994-1998), an Affordability Through Commonality R&D manager (1992-1995), and a hull structures engineer.  Mr. Rivers began his career at the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard.

Mr. Rivers is a member of the Acquisition Professional Community and holds Advanced tier certification in the Program Management functional area and Practitioner tier certification in the Engineering & Technical Management functional area.  He received a Bachelor of Science degree in engineering from the University of Maryland.

Mcneal 1

Captain Cedric McNeal, USN

Amphibious Warfare Program Manager, Program Executive Office, Ships

Born and raised in Jackson, Mississippi, Captain McNeal received his commissioning in 1997 from the Southern University and A&M College in Baton
Rouge, Louisiana Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps (NROTC) unit. After commissioning, he reported to Surface Warfare Officer School in Newport, Rhode Island where he completed the basic Surface Warfare Officer training course. In November 1997, he reported aboard USS Gunston Hall (LSD 44) where served as Communications Officer and CMS Custodian/Electronic Key Management System (EKMS) Manager, qualifying as a Surface Warfare Officer, and also earning his qualification as a Diesel Engineering Officer of the Watch (EOOW). In November 1999, Captain McNeal reported aboard USS Caron (DD 970) and served as the ship’s Navigator and Administrative Officer. Prior to completing his tour onboard Caron, Captain McNeal decided to pursue his commissioning option for the Engineering Duty Officer Community and in 2001, reported to the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California. While there, he completed his Postgraduate studies, earning a Master of Science degree in Applied Physics with a concentration in Weapons Systems. His postgraduate studies were followed by his completion of the Engineering Duty Officer Basic Course in Port Hueneme, California.

Captain McNeal’s first Engineering Duty Officer tour was with Supervisor of Shipbuilding (SUPSHIP) San Diego (now Southwest Regional Maintenance Center – SWRMC), where he was assigned as Project Officer to the USS Curts (FFG 38) for their Docking Selected Restricted Availability and then went on to serve in the same capacity for USS Peleliu (LHA 5). Also, while at SWRMC, Captain McNeal served as Project Manager for maintenance availabilities aboard USS Germantown (LSD 42) and USS Pearl Harbor (LSD 52) and then as the LSD/LPD Class Team Business Officer for all San Diego based LSD and LPD ships. Upon completion of his tour at SWRMC, Captain McNeal went on to complete two tours in new ship construction on the Gulf Coast. From December 2005 to May 2009, he was assigned to SUPSHIP Gulf Coast as the Production Officer for USS Makin Island (LHD 8). In June 2009, he reported to SUPSHIP Bath and led its Mobile, Alabama detachment in the delivery of USS Independence (LCS 2), a first of class vessel being presented to the Navy by a first-time shipbuilder.

In 2011, Captain McNeal, served a one-year Individual Augmentee (IA) tour of duty in Djibouti, Africa, as the Operations Officer for the Combined Joint Task Force, Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA), where he managed Humanitarian Assistance (HA) Construction Projects, supporting the HA Program Manager and Task Force Engineer. Following completion of his overseas duty, he was assigned to PMS 377 (Amphibious Warfare Program Office) as the Deputy Technical Director. After his tour in PMS 377, Captain McNeal served as the Director for Surface Combatants for the Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Ships (DASN Ships), managing acquisition portfolios for the DDG 51, DDG 1000, and Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) shipbuilding programs. Captain McNeal’s time on the DASN Ships staff made him uniquely qualified for his follow-on tour in serving as the Deputy Major Program Manager for the Guided Missile Frigate (FFG(X)) Program in PMS 515. Captain McNeal assumed command of the Naval Surface Warfare Center, Carderock Division in May 2019 and was properly relieved on 10 July 2020. On July 31, 2020, Captain McNeal assumed the position of Program Manager for PMS 377, the Amphibious Warfare Program Office.
Captain McNeal is married to the former Dr. Carla D. Morris; they have one son (Carter), and currently reside in Montgomery County, Maryland.

Wint (1)

Lieutenant Wileslie Wint, USN

Deputy Command Chaplain, NCBC Gulfport

Chaplain Wint is a native of Manchester, Jamaica. He immigrated to the United States at age 10, and attended Kingswood-Oxford School (West Hartford, CT). After graduation, he enlisted in the Navy where he served as a Hospital Corpsman. He later enlisted in the Army where he served as a Motor Transportation Operator. He is a graduate of Thomas Edison University (Trenton, NJ) and Corban University (Salem, OR), receiving Bachelor of Art and Master of Divinity, respectively. In addition, he completed two units of Clinical Pastoral Education at St. Peters Hospital Lacey, WA and a residency at MultiCare Good Samaritan Hospital Puyallup, WA. He is endorsed by the General Association of Regular Baptist (GARBC). 

LTJG Wint was commissioned in the Naval Reserves as a chaplain candidate in 2011. As a Chaplain candidate, he graduated from the Officer Development Course 2012. He accepted his appointment to active duty on 11 July 2021. His enlistment tours include 40th Transportation Company (Joint Base Lewis McChord, WA) with deployments to Kuwait, and Iraq from 2009-2010.

His recent experience includes PeaceHealth Sacred Heart Hospital as a Hospice Chaplain (Eugene, OR), Associate Pastor at Tumwater First Baptist Church (Tumwater, WA), and EvergreenHealth (Kirkland, WA) as a Hospice Chaplain. LTJG Wint is currently the Deputy Command Base Chaplain at Seabee Memorial Chaplain Naval Construction Battalion Center Gulfport MS. Chaplain Wint’s personal awards include the Army Commendation Medal, Army Achievement Medal, Navy Good Conduct Medal, Army Good Conduct Medal, Navy Expert Pistol Medal, Navy Expert Rifle Medal and various campaign, unit, and service awards.


Captain Randy Slaff, USN

Supervisor of Shipbuilding Gulf Coast

CAPT Randy Slaff was born in Nashville, TN, and raised in Dallas, PA. He graduated from the United States Naval Academy in 1999 with a degree in Naval Architecture. He then reported to USS ARLEIGH BURKE (DDG 51) for his first division officer tour as the Anti- Submarine Warfare Officer. During his tour aboard USS ARLEIGH BURKE, he earned his Surface Warfare Officer qualification. In 2001, CAPT Slaff reported to DESRON 26 as the Assistant Operations Officer, and earned his Tactical Action Officer qualification. Following his tour with DESRON 26, he reported ashore to the Surface Warfare Officer School in 2003 where he served as an anti-submarine warfare instructor and completed his Master Training Specialist Qualification. In 2007, he completed his master’s degree at the Naval Postgraduate School (NPS) in Monterey, CA, where he completed the Total Ship Systems Engineering Program and earned a Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering.

CAPT Slaff’s initial Engineering Duty Office tour was at the Supervisor of Shipbuilding, Conversion, and Repair in Bath, ME (SSBA), where he served as a Project Officer/Ship Superintendent for DDG 104, DDG 106, and DDG 1000. Following the completion of his Engineering Duty Officer Qualification in 2009, he assumed duties as the SSBA Production/Delivery Officer for both the DDG 51 and DDG 1000 programs and completed the delivery of USS WAYNE E MEYER (DDG 108). In 2010, CAPT Slaff reported to the Supervisor of Shipbuilding, Conversion, and Repair Gulf Coast (SSGC) in Pascagoula, MS, where he was assigned as the DDG 1000 Program Manager’s Representative (PMR). While stationed at SSGC, CAPT Slaff was accepted as a member of the Acquisition Professional Community. Following his tour as SSGC DDG 1000 PMR, CAPT Slaff completed an IA deployment as the Deputy Force Engineer for Combined Joint Task Force Horn of Africa in Djibouti, Africa. In 2013, CAPT Slaff reported to PEO Ships as the Production Officer and Principle Assistant Program Manager for Post-Delivery, Test and Evaluation, and Fleet Introduction for the LPD Program (PMS 317). In 2016, CAPT Slaff reported to the Supervisor of Shipbuilding Gulf Coast as the LHA Program Manager’s Representative and delivered USS TRIPOLI (LHA 7) in 2020. In October 2020, CAPT Slaff reported to Special Operations Command where he assumed duties as Program Executive Officer Maritime for Special Operations Forces Acquisition, Technology, & Logistics (SOF AT&L). CAPT Slaff reported to SSGC in July 2023 and assumed duties as Commanding Officer.

CAPT Slaff’s personal awards include the Defense Superior Service Medal, Meritorious Service Medal (two awards), Joint Service Commendation Medal, Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal (four awards), and the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal (two awards). He has been married to Maraya Slaff of Kingston, PA., since 2000. They have two children, Nicholas and Isabelle.

Captain Marsh 1

Captain Harry Marsh, USN

Commanding Officer, Pre-Commissioning Unit Bougainville and Prospective Commanding Officer Bougainville (LHA 8)

Captain Harry Marsh, a native of Matoaca, Virginia, enlisted in the United States Navy on June 15, 1993. Upon completion of Recruit Training in San Diego, California, he attended Broadened Opportunity for Officer Selection and Training (BOOST) and received a Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps (NROTC) scholarship. He attended Old Dominion University and graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration. He received his commission in 1998 and attended Basic Surface Warfare Officer School in Newport, Rhode Island. 

Captain Marsh’s sea service includes assignments as Strike Warfare Officer in USS Briscoe (DD 977), Training Officer in USS Kauffman (FFG 59), Weapons Officer and Combat Systems Officer in USS Ramage (DDG 61), Executive Officer in USS Mesa Verde (LPD 19), Commanding Officer in USS Stethem (DDG 63), and Chief Staff Officer in Amphibious Squadron THREE.

Captain Marsh’s service ashore includes assignments to Afloat Training Group Norfolk as Training Liaison Officer, where he earned a Master’s degree in Public Administration from Old Dominion University; Naval War College, earning a Master’s degree in Defense and Strategic Studies; Navy Air and Missile Defense Command as Deputy Assistant Chief of Staff for Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) Training and Assessments; Tactical Training Group Pacific as Operations and Planning Syndicate Head; Navy Leadership and Ethics Center as Prospective Commanding Officer Instructor; and Naval War College, earning a Master’s degree in National Security and Strategic Policy.

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