LeCroy graduates Navy Nuclear Power School, preparing for sub career

Published 1:02 pm Tuesday, July 18, 2023

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By Carey Reeder | Managing Editor

Ensign “CJ” LeCroy, a 2017 valedictorian of Isabella High School, is now a graduate of the United States Navy Nuclear Power School. LeCroy graduated from the program at age 24 at Joint Base Charleston in Goose Creek, South Carolina on July 7.

LeCroy was a standout student at Isabella and moved on to receive a Bachelor of Physics and Mathematics degree from Birmingham-Southern College in 2021. After that, it was time to decide on what his next move would be.

“My dad was close with some of the recruiters, and then I started hearing about some of the opportunities that they had,” LeCroy said. “I did not know that was a real option and that I could actually do this. I signed up, and now here I am.”

LeCroy was commissioned as a naval officer in Newport, Rhode Island in 2022, and shortly after relocated to Charleston to begin his studies at the Naval Nuclear Power Training Command.

The program is split into two sections, and the first is the schooling portion. The naval nuclear program is recognized as being among the most demanding academic programs across all the United States military branches, according to the NNPTC website.

Students in the program have around 40 hours of instruction per week in the classroom, and they may complete an additional 10-35 hours per week of studying outside of the classroom.

LeCroy said the experience for him was similar to the description with up to 60-hour work weeks and always in the books. He described the school portion of the program like “trying to drink from a fire hose,” due to the amount of information the students have to take in within a short period of time. When the schooling was complete the students had to turn in all of their notes, and LeCroy’s papers were over a foot high.

LeCroy is a third-generation United States Navy sailor after his grandfather, Alton LeCroy, served in the Navy during the Korean War. His father, Jay LeCroy, was a Navy reservist during Operation Desert Storm.

However, CJ LeCroy is the first one in his family to operate submarines in the Navy and is the highest rank in his family already as an officer.

“His mother and I are very proud,” Jay LeCroy said. “His grandfather would be very proud of him too because he was in the Navy. To have him continue that legacy and serve the country, we are proud he is doing it too.”

LeCroy received a short break after his graduation but reports back to the NNPTC in Charleston on July 18 to complete the second portion of the program — a hands-on experience where he will learn how to operate a submarine. The training center has some decommissioned submarines that are docked there for training purposes for the students in the program.

While back in Chilton County, LeCroy was awarded an American flag from Alabama Senator Tommy Tuberville that was flown over the United States Capitol building in Washington D.C. the day he graduated from the Navy Nuclear School. LeCroy was presented the flag at Isabella High School by Alabama Representative of the 42nd district Van Smith.

“Leadership skills that are developed in the military are life long,” Smith said. “To have a young man that was good in high school, good in college and has gone on to perform outstanding in the military, we are very proud of him and look forward to seeing all of the things he can do.”

When LeCroy gets back to the training center and jumps into the hands-on portion of the program he will learn everything from driving the submarines to making sure its nuclear reactors are operating properly. All of the U.S. Navy’s submarines are powered by nuclear reactors, and the schooling part LeCroy completed was learning everything there is to know about them.

Now, LeCroy will be getting into some things he was excited about the day he decided to join the program.

“What we are training for now is operating the reactor and making sure the reactor is safe, but that is only like 30% of the job,” LeCroy said. “The other 70% of the job is driving the boat and managing my division … It sounds so cool, and the operation side of it sounds so cool. As an officer, you have to know the whole submarine, and be capable of handling it in all sorts of situations.”

After LeCroy completes the program he will be commissioned as a Navy submarine officer. He will have the opportunity to pick a few places where he wants to be stationed and is hoping to land somewhere in the south such as Georgia, but would not mind Hawaii either.

“This is a cool job,” LeCroy said. “This is a job when I am ready to retire I can look back on and know that was something worth wild, fun and had a good cause behind it.”