Virginia Beach, Va. Native Serves as Member of U.S. Navy in Horn of Africa



Story by Lt. Jennifer K Cunningham 

Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti

CAMP LEMONNIER, Djibouti – Master Chief Petty Officer Christy Kieschnick, a native of Virginia Beach, Virginia, is a yeoman and the senior enlisted leader for the executive and administrative staff at Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti. Located in an austere environment, Camp Lemonnier is a U.S. Navy base located in the Horn of Africa and is the only enduring U.S. military base on the continent of Africa.

Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti provides, operates, and sustains superior service in support of combat readiness and security of ships, aircraft, detachments and personnel for regional and combatant command requirements, enabling operations and providing stability in the Horn of Africa while fostering positive U.S.-African Nations relations.

Kieschnick, a 1993 graduate of Princess Anne High School and St. Leo University graduate (2003 and 2005), credits her success in the Navy to many of the lessons learned growing up in Virginia Beach.

“I had a very hard life growing up,” Kieschnick said. “So I learned how important it was to be able to rely on other people and not to do everything on your own. I had a lot of great people and mentors in my life.”

According to Navy officials, maintaining maritime superiority is a vital part of a Navy that is present today and prepared for tomorrow. The impact affects Americans and their interests around the world, as more than 70 percent of the Earth is covered by water and 90 percent of all trade travels by sea.

“Camp Lemonnier is a key Navy base and a vital asset to the United States as our location in the Horn of Africa overlooks the world’s fourth busiest waterway,” said Capt. Ken Crowe, commanding officer of Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti. “A mission as critical as ours comes with a lot of responsibilities and challenges, but our military members and civilians work hard. I’m honored to serve alongside each and every one of them, including Master Chief Kieschnick.”

Kieschnick plays an important role in America’s focus on rebuilding military readiness, strengthening alliances and reforming business practices in support of the National Defense Strategy.

“I am confident that we will maximize the Navy we have today while delivering the Navy that our nation will rely upon tomorrow,” said Adm. Mike Gilday, Chief of Naval Operations. “We will do so with urgency. Our fleet will be a potent, formidable force that competes around the world every day, deterring those who would challenge us while reassuring our allies and partners.”

Though there are many ways for sailors to earn distinction in their command, community and career, Kieschnick is most proud of being able to mentor others.

“It’s an honor to see people advance in their careers or even go further than I have,” said Kieschnick. “My value is being able to see other succeed as part of my mentorship. It’s how I give back and that’s why I’m still in the Navy and still a chief—to be able to help others.”

Kieschnick was the first in her family to join the Navy, though her father is an Air Force veteran. As a member of the U.S. Navy, Kieschnick and other sailors stationed at Camp Lemonnier and around the world know they are a part of a service tradition providing unforgettable experiences through leadership development, world affairs and humanitarian assistance. Their efforts will have a lasting effect around the globe and for generations of sailors who will follow.

“It feels good to be part of something bigger than me,” Kieschnick said. “I’m able to reach out and help more people here. It’s a big sense of accomplishment.”

Virginia Beach, Va. Native Serves as Member of U.S. Navy in Horn of Africa