MEMORIAL FOR NIMITZ SAILOR
By MCSN Renee Candelario
Aviation Boatswains Mates to work on an operational flight deck. During her tour aboard the Lincoln, she earned a commission as a Naval Officer through the Limited Duty Officer (LDO) program.
July 1, 2000, Mills became the Navy’s first female Aviation Deck LDO. She was assigned as the Air Bos’n on board USS Tarawa (LHD 1) in San Diego, Calif., from Aug. 2000 to Nov. 2002. Her next tour was with Expeditionary Strike Group THREE from Nov. 2002 to Dec. 2004. In Dec. 2004, Mills was transferred aboard Nimitz as the flight deck officer where she completed two deployments in support of Operation IRAQI FREEDOM and Operation ENDURING FREEDOM. From Dec. 2007 to Dec. 2009 she transferred to Afloat Training Group, Pacific in San Diego to provide afloat training to the Navy and U.S. Coast Guard.
Mills reported for her second tour aboard Nimitz in December 2009 to serve as the Navy’s first female aircraft handling officer.
During the ceremony, family members and close friends shared memories and impressions Mills left with them.
“Personally, she taught me to put the needs of others before that of your own,” said Lt. Cmdr. Jeff Mills, Mills’ husband. “She lived by that motto. She died by that motto.”
The Navy remembered Lt. Cmdr. Regina Mills, the fleet’s first female aircraft handling officer, in a ceremony Jan. 27.
More than 2,000 family members, friends, and shipmates assembled aboard the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN 68) for the event.
“Regina was a great leader and officer,” said Capt. Paul O. Monger, Nimitz’ Commanding Officer. “She was a leader and mentor, not only to the Sailors and officers in the Air Department, but throughout the ship. It would be difficult to find anyone aboard Nimitz whose life or career here wasn’t positively influenced by her. Tasked with ensuring optimum safety on board an aircraft, carrier an inherently dangerous environment, she died as a result of trying to assist a person faced with potential danger. Our thoughts and prayers are with her family. Regina will be sorely missed.”
The Louisville, Ky., native enlisted in the U.S. Navy in 1986. After graduating recruit training command in Orlando, Fla., Mills was assigned to Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron 41 (HSM 41) at Naval Air Station North Island, Calif. In January 1990 she reported to U.S. Naval Support Force Antarctica where she deployed with Operation DEEP FREEZE. Her next duty station was Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, Wash., from July 1993 to Feb. 1998.
Mills then went to serve as an Aviation Boatswain’s Mate 1st Class aboard the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72). She was one of the first female
“Life is not measured by how many years you live, it’s how you live the years you have,” said Cmdr. Lisa Ketterman. “And she made it count every day.”