When you walk the passageways aboard the aircraft carrier USS George H. W. Bush (CVN 77), you cross paths with a number of different Sailors. Different ranks, different experiences, and different ways of life. Among them is a chief who greets every Sailor that crosses his path, no matter who they are. If you’ve ever visited the XO Admin Office, it’s easy to see that Chief Yeoman AJhourni K. McClain, Chief of the Executive Officer Administration, is that chief.
“I want every Sailor to feel as if they can approach me,” McClain said. “I’m an approachable person. Don’t let my anchor scare you.”
If you sit with McClain, you get an idea of how popular he is among Sailors onboard. Not only will he greet every Sailor, he will answer any question presented, both professional and casual.
“Chief, do you know where I can find the file we emailed to the CO?” asked one Sailor.
“Chief, what do you think about this song?” asked another Sailor.
McClain, amazed at the number of questions he just received, answered.
“I guess I’m just the one who knows everything, huh?” McClain said sarcastically.
To better understand McClain, you must know his beginning. McClain grew up in Warren, Ark., a town a little over an hour away from Little Rock. He grew up in an impoverished community without much to look forward to in life.
“There isn’t much to do where I’m from,” McClain said. “There aren’t many opportunities for me or people who are Black.”
McClain graduated high school and there wasn’t a lot of prospects to better one’s self. Unfortunately, college was never in the cards for McClain.
“Nobody came to help us with that type of thing where I was living,” McClain said. “My school was terrible, so I went to Job Corps until I figured it out.”
During a seemingly normal day at work, a Navy recruiter approached McClain with an opportunity to see the world, and McClain jumped at the chance to leave.
“I was so desperate to get out of Warren that I was prepared to accept any rate,” McClain said. “I wanted to do what I already had been doing with Job Corps, but it really could have been anything and I still would have signed.”
Seventeen years later, Chief Yeoman McClain can look back at the beginning as a seaman recruit and know he has become a Sailor who carries the swagger and self-belief of knowing he is the best at what he does.
“I have worked at the Pentagon, I have worked for admirals. Everywhere I have gone I have either worked for captains or higher,” McClain said. “I am very good at what I do, and I say that humbly, but I also say that with the arrogance of a person who strives to be great.”
While McClain demonstrates what it is to be a great Sailor, he also exemplifies what it means to be a community leader and role model for young adults to emulate. Once he’s done with the Navy, he plans on bolstering Black youths to do more and give back.
“I have a plan to rebuild neighborhoods that are considered impoverished,” McClain said. “I want to be able to do it with the young adults from those areas. I want to help get them into school, and become agents of knowledge with the ability to build and sell properties in their own areas.”
McClain also has one other special venture, something that he has had a passion for since he was a child. He is an accomplished R&B singer. He has worked with several individuals from the music industry including Artists & Repertoire (A&Rs) from Capitol Records and the main engineer of Grammy nominated artist, Wale.
“Wale’s engineer heard me recording my first single at a studio in (Washington) D.C.” McClain said. “I recorded that song and he enjoyed it. He took my music and got it into the right people’s hands. I didn’t know he worked with Wale until later when he told me.”
McClain takes his music very seriously, so much so that he has two EP’s, several singles, and a full album that will be releasing soon.
“I have a small studio in my home and it’s enough for me to do all I need to do,” McClain said. “I can put out music whenever I need to and it allows me to have full creative ability.”
With a passion for music, community, and Sailors, it’s easy to see why McClain is such a popular Sailor aboard GHWB. He is a leader who is kind, fair, and charismatic. He holds others accountable, but will also defend them when necessary. McClain is the gold standard of what leadership should be. He is a great role model for young Sailors, especially young Black Sailors, to emulate.