PORT HUENEME, Calif. —
Daniel Casebolt, William Kronner and Esthela McKenzie may work in very different jobs at NSWC PHD, but they all have one thing in common: each was named a Civilian of the Quarter (COQ) for 4th Quarter, Fiscal Year (FY) 2020.
The trio was recognized by leadership during the All Hands and Awards event, held Dec. 9 in the Audio Visual Center as well as virtually on Microsoft Teams.
Civilians of the Quarter are selected based on their demonstration of exemplary performance above what is expected of their position, as well as contributions that enhance PHD’s strategic objectives, mission and teamwork.
In addition, Civilians of the Quarter are noted for their willingness to assist or mentor team members and their personal initiative and professionalism.
In an unusual occurrence, Casebolt and Kronner tied for COQ in the technical category.
Casebolt was born and raised in San Diego, California, so perhaps it’s no surprise he joined the Navy, serving as a fire controlman from August 1990 to August 2010. He joined the Navy, Casebolt said, because he was interested in “technical training, travel opportunities and the chance to blow things up.”
Members of his mother’s and father’s families served in the Armed Forces, which also spurred his interest in joining the military.
Casebolt earned an associate’s degree in electronics technology from Coastline Community College in Fountain Valley, California, and a bachelor’s degree in construction engineering from National University.
After retiring from the Navy, he got a job as a contractor for ESN (Engineering Services Network) in Woodbridge, Virginia, which assigned him to NSWC PHD’s carrier combat system branch as a test director. He worked on amphibious assault ships in the amphibious combat system branch.
PHD hired him as a civilian employee in March 2015, and he continued on as a test director.
Later, he became the combat systems integration test coordinator for Commander, Naval Air Systems Command-Pacific (CNAP), and then served as the Integrated Warfare Systems (IWS) manager for CNAP.
Casebolt was congratulated for successfully juggling two responsibilities for nearly a year. As IWS manager, he provided technical expertise for all warfare systems, while simultaneously acting as the type commander for weapons systems certification decisions for all 11 nuclear-powered aircraft carriers (CVNs).
The award nomination highlighted Casebolt’s meticulous management of all CVN waterfront support for both East and West Coast personnel, as part of the command’s carrier combat system branch. He also assigned weapons test directors to all CVNs in availabilities.
Casebolt said the work is challenging—but he’s always up for a challenge.
“A vast amount of knowledge is required on the combat systems in order to perform these critical duties,” Casebolt said. ‘”There’s never a dull moment.”
Casebolt said he was surprised and honored to be recognized by command leadership.
“I am very appreciative of my chain of command for noticing and making the recommendation for me as a Civilian of the Quarter,” Casebolt said. “I hope it shines a light on just a fraction of the everyday work being done on the waterfront by the team.”
Kronner, who moved to Southern California in 2017, spent 23 years in the U.S. Navy and reached the rank of chief gunner’s mate (GMC). He retired just prior to joining NSWC PHD in February 2018.
Kronner, who earned a bachelor’s degree in domestic security management from National University in La Jolla, California, is the senior engineering technician responsible for providing fleet support of the Vertical Launching System (VLS) in U.S. Navy and allied Navy ships.
He’s no stranger to the MK 41 VLS. While enlisted, Kronner served as a maintenance team member for the MK 41 VLS on USS O’Brien (DD 975) and USS Milius (DDG 69). He later became the MK 41 VLS work group supervisor on USS Mustin (DDG 89) and was the chief gunner’s mate MK 41 leading chief petty officer on USS Spruance (DDG 111).
Before retiring, he was the GMC Surface Warfare, MK 41 VLS system maintenance technician, stationed at the Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard.
“I was offered a great opportunity to work here (in PHD) in the launcher systems engineering branch, and it has been a great experience,” Kronner said.
Kronner said he enjoys assisting the fleet through aboard technical assistance and remote distance support.
“Each day provides me with a new problem, which brings excitement and challenge to help identify and create new ways to assist the Navy to improve and become more confident in its warfighting efforts,” he said.
Kronner was recognized in his award nomination for providing outstanding fleet support as the embarked MK 41 VLS in-service engineering agent (ISEA) for Carrier Strike Group 11.
After completing a 14-day restriction of movement in San Diego, he deployed with USS Princeton (CG 59) as the embarked ISEA ship rider from June 5 to Sept. 5. During his three-month deployment in the U.S. 5th Fleet Area of Responsibility, Kronner also worked with USS John Paul Jones (DDG 53), USS Sterett (DDG 104), and USS Ralph Johnson (DDG 114) in providing aboard technical assistance, training and maintenance support.
He provided 396 hours of maintenance assistance, and conducted 187 hours of crew training and mentoring for the four ships.
The award nomination highlighted how Kronner’s volunteering for this long-term task showcased NSWC PHD’s commitment to its fleet customers.
“When my branch manager told me I was named the Civilian of the Quarter, initially I was shocked that I was selected,” he said. “I am grateful that my contributions were noticed.”
Kronner emphasized that the recognition did not belong to him alone, noting that during his three-month deployment, team members throughout the weapons systems integration division assisted him in providing logistics support, technical guidance and occasional ISEA-approved procedures to identify and correct CASREPs.
McKenzie was named the COQ in the business operations category. Originally from Zacatecas, Mexico, she moved to Oxnard in 1993 and later received her associate’s degree in liberal arts from Oxnard College. She went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in science and digital media design from Southeastern University in Lakeland, Florida, in 2020.
After working in various administrative jobs in the Southern California area, she landed a temporary job at PHD with government contractor Raytheon Technologies in Waltham, Massachusetts. When that assignment ended, McKenzie took a position in the command’s Public Affairs Office (PAO) through an employment agency. She became a government contractor in December 2008 and has been at the command ever since.
McKenzie began to assist with technical support, setting up Video Teleconferencing (VTC) systems for meetings and command events. In addition, she was responsible for overseeing information systems on secured and unsecured networks.
“In 2015, a civilian position opened up for a graphic designer, and I took it,” McKenzie said. “I taught myself most of what I knew at the time; then I decided to go to school and get my degree in digital media and design.
“I fell in love with creating and designing,” she said. “I love my job!”
As PAO’s visual information branch manager, McKenzie was recognized in the fourth quarter of FY20 for having executed a wealth of department briefs, mission overviews, programmatic presentations and storyboards for a last-minute visit from a warfare center flag officer.
In addition, she was instrumental in the creation and support of the 2020-2030 Strategic Plan and updates to new hire onboarding briefs. She also led the visual information team in support of photo coverage, fliers and videography for 17 events, including the Naval Sea Systems Command Town Hall, and facilitated content posting for four web platforms, including 67 PHD News stories.
“I enjoy working with the visual information team—a group of talented and creative individuals who take pride in their work and go above and beyond to meet any communications needs,” she said.
McKenzie also serves as a mentor in her department as well as in the command’s Special Emphasis Program. She became the Hispanic Employees Program lead in October 2019.
“I decided to take on the responsibility because, along with my colleagues, I want to help promote professional and leadership development, foster an environment of inclusion and be an advocate for recruitment and hiring of Hispanics here at the command,” she said.
According to the nomination, McKenzie is a proactive leader who is dedicated and meticulous, leads by example and is a diversity champion.
“I am very honored to have been named the COQ,” McKenzie said. “All my accomplishments could not have been possible without the support of an amazing and talented team.”