For Capt. Brian Weiss, becoming Naval Air Station Jacksonville’s (NAS Jax) new executive officer (XO) means coming home.
“What I am most excited about is to come back to Mother Jacksonville,” said Weiss, who was born in Titusville, Florida.“This really is home for me. I started out in VP-30 after getting winged.”
Weiss is also happy to be part of what he calls a “winning team.”
“It’s not by happenstance that NAS Jacksonville has such a great reputation. It is through the hard work and dedication of the deckplate Sailors on up to the commanding officer and executive officer. I am proud to be part of that.”
A P-3C tactical coordinator and instructor, Weiss got his love of aviation from his father, whom he called his biggest influence.
“My first time in a plane was when I was three-years-old with my father,” he said. “Even today, he lives near here and he has a couple of planes that we fly. He is someone I look up to and I fashioned my life to be more like my dad.”
Weiss said Navy influences on his career were too many to name. “In the Navy, I’ve had so many good leaders. You learn a lot from the good and you learn a lot from the bad.”
In addition to those who influenced him, there were also training pipelines, on-the-job training and the naval institutions that helped him grow as a junior officer.
“The special thing about the Navy is there doesn’t have to be one person,” he said.
“That is what wardrooms and the chief’s mess are all about. They do a great job of shaping an individual. If you are not doing it right, they are going to be the first to tell you.”
As he progressed in his career, Weiss came to appreciate the importance of what he was taught.
“As you get more and more senior, you look back and you realize how much you relied on that mentorship that comes early on in your career and beyond.”
Weiss took the leadership lessons he learned to Patrol Squadron 9, where he served as XO and then as commanding officer (CO). It was one of his goals to have a personal relationship with every individual in the squadron.
“At the end of my time as XO, I felt comfortable leading up to the job as CO because I knew all of my Sailors.”
He wants to take the same approach in his position of XO of NAS Jax, but acknowledges it will be more difficult because of the number of people on the base.
“The biggest adjustment here is that there are so many folks,” he said. “It is going to be more difficult because you are stretched in a lot of different ways. I look forward to it. It is a great opportunity, but it is also a challenge.”
Other key aspects of leadership for Weiss is communication and the ability to listen.
“I think being a communicator is key but you really have to know your people too,” he said.
“You have to get out with them. You can’t park yourself behind a computer screen. You have to have deckplate interaction. You need to push out and be visible. You need to see what is going on.”
For Weiss, the new role is all about giving back to those that have the jobs that he once did.
“It is really neat to come here and give back to the warfighters,” he said. I am not flying anymore, but I have the opportunity to help those who fly and those who support the aviation side to accomplish their mission. I’ve spent the last 23 years receiving services and support from the installations, now I have the opportunity to give back and help provide support, from an installation standpoint, to the tenant commands.”
Weiss and his family have settled in at NAS Jax for his tour.
“I really have a terrific and supportive family,” he said. “They were my rock in Japan during a very challenging assignment.”
“It is a privilege to be back here in Jacksonville and to be part of a team that supports the mission, values it’s Sailors and is always looking for ways to better itself,” said Weiss. “That is a winning combination. It is going to be an interesting and fun next three years. We are all buckling in for the ride!”