Born in Illinois, Commander Janet H. Days graduated Summa Cum Laude from Old Dominion University in 1999 with a Bachelor of Science in Business and received her commission from the Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps via the Enlisted Commissioning Program (ECP). She also holds a Master of Business Administration from the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, CA and concurrently earned the Navy War College Command and Staff diploma. She is also a graduate of Joint and Combined Warfighting School at Joint Forces Staff College (JFSC), and is a qualified joint specialty officer.
CDR Days’ initial sea assignment as a division officer was aboard USS Mahan (DDG 72), a guided missile destroyer home-ported in Norfolk, Virginia. There she served as Auxiliaries/Electrical Officer and was selected to remain onboard for a subsequent division officer tour as Navigator and Operations Plans (N5). During her tour, Mahan conducted a Mediterranean and North Atlantic deployment. Upon completion of Surface Warfare Officer Department Head School in August 2007, CDR Days reported to USS Forrest Sherman (DDG 98) where she served as Engineer Officer completing two deployments; one to the CENTCOM AOR to conduct Theater Security Cooperation and a subsequent deployment to the SOUTHCOM AOR to conduct Counter Narcotics Operations. After her Engineering tour she reported to Destroyer Squadron 28 as the Material Officer (N4) and Staff Director where she completed two deployments to the CENTCOM AOR embarked on Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69) in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. Most recently, CDR Days served as the Executive Officer onboard USS McFaul prior to taking command.
Ashore, CDR Days was assigned to the Joint Staff, J7 Joint & Coalition Warfighting as a military analyst and Observer Trainer augment to the Deployable Training Team. Additionally, while assigned to the Joint Staff, CDR Days deployed to Kabul, Afghanistan as the Joint Staff, J7 LNO to the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) Headquarters. CDR Days recently completed a tour at Afloat Training Group (ATG), Norfolk as a Combat Systems Tactical Mentor and is a graduate of the pilot WTI/IAMD course
CDR Days’ decorations include the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Navy Commendation Medal (seven awards), Army Commendation Medal (two awards), Army Achievement Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal and various other personal medals, unit awards and campaign ribbons.
How has failure or apparent failure set you up for later success?
My first anchoring evolution as Navigator was in the Virgin Islands National Park after completing C2X. Unfortunately, anchoring of vessels over 210ft is not authorized and could damage the coral; thus, my ship had to set the detail and move the ship 1000 yards to an acceptable location. This was very upsetting and taught me an invaluable lesson – do your homework/ research prior to every port visit reviewing, AARs, port visit reports, sailing directions and applicable planning guidance. The navy does a superb job of collecting lessons learned and it is incumbent upon each of us to seek out this information and not repeat mistakes. Lastly, I made it a personal goal to provide very detailed assessments after every port visits for other ships that may later visit.
Are there any quotes you think of often or live your life by?
“Your self-sacrificing devotion to your purpose in life and your unwavering faith will carry you through times of difficulty” - MLK
What is the first thing you do when you get up in the morning? Do you have a morning routine?
Indeed I do – when in port I hit the gym prior to heading to the ship. I have found that at least 45 minutes of cardio/exercise each morning helps to jump start my day! It is an absolute must and I vary the routine based on how much time I have. Truth be told – it’s a bit more difficult at sea, but I do try.
What career advice would you give a smart and driven young SWO? What advice should they ignore?
Do not try to be someone you are not. It is important to be confident and comfortable being uncomfortable on occasion – that is ok. Spend more time listening vice developing your response and seek constructive criticism from trusted sources (Department heads, chief, LPO). Surround yourself with positive people who desire to learn and grow. Lastly, seek the facts and do not make decisions based on loose information.
Do not put “book ends” on your tour! You should strive to make your division, your department and inevitably your ship better than it was when you arrived. Never stop putting for the effort even if you may not be there for deployment or you may not be there to execute the INSURV or training event. Continue to have the same drive and enthusiasm you exhibited at the beginning of your tour and make your legacy onboard lasting.
Never stop having a questioning attitude. A qualification does not mean you are an expert and there is always room for growth and learning.
Professional curiosity is a must. Join the Surface Navy Association and attend the lectures, luncheons and symposiums offered.
What is the book you’ve given most as a gift and why?
The Art of the Hand Written Note: A Guide to Reclaiming Civilized Communication by Margaret Shepherd. I am a huge fan of saying “thank you” and there is no greater compliment than to take the time to write a brief note. Technology has inspired many to not even send cards, but there is much to be relayed by a simple note, a kind gesture, a hand written thank you - try it.
How do you set priorities and manage your time?
I maintain a long range and short range calendar with dates, special events, suspense dates for correspondence etc. The goal is to document (write everything down) and check off tasks/events as they occur constantly revisiting/refining the long term plan in the process. Priorities are set based on requirements – what is important and urgent, important but not urgent. Must have a cutoff time when in port – stick to the plan.
What is your most effective daily habit?
Morning meditation – transferring the mind from negative to the positive and while at sea morning coffee and the sunrise! Always look for the good in others. Oftentimes people are unaware of the many positive attributes they possess. Your sailors love to talk about what they do, love to explain the complexities of the systems and equipment they operate. Engage your sailors and allow them to teach you something. You will be amazed how quickly you can build rapport with your team. Offer the greeting of the day, “good morning”, “hello”, “how are you” and always say “thank you”.
How do you define success?
The joy of celebrating the successes of others! Admiring the hidden gifts/treasures that others behold and oftentimes they are unaware of their own talents.