Member Feature: “The Captains”

Article written by Second Space Lord, Baroness New Hastings

Welcome to the TRMN Member Feature! Every month we will feature a new member (or two), getting to know who they are, what they do, and why they do it.

This month the Second Space Lord sat down with “The Captains,” Commander Lisa Wiedemann, CO HMS Vixen (DD-174) and Captain (SG) Sam Dietzmann, CO HMS Demon (CLAC-62) and CO Task Group 22.4, to find out what makes them tick and what they love about TRMN.

On the left: Commander Lisa Wiedermann
On the right: Captain (SG) Sam Dietzmann
Photo courtesy of the Bureau of Planning

What do you do in TRMN past and present?

Vixen CO: It started with me proclaiming, proudly, “I’m going to be the most decorated spacer to never take a test!” I saw, in the past, the TRMN as a social club that held parties at con and wanted to help to that end.

Then Baron Oak Forest informed me there was a Destroyer by the name of “Vixen”, with a kitsune as its crest. (I’m quite fond of foxes). And well, I knew she was the ship for this spacer. In my time as CO, I have had the pleasure of helping my crew aid the causes they love and have really seen an organic identity evolve in the chapter.

Demon CO: Tended bar at a room party, took some tests, made a post or two on HMS Demon’s Facebook page, got sucked into a promotion hole at E-3. I have been the CO of HMS Demon for the past 2+ years and Task Group 22.4 CO for the past 9 or 10 months.

Really what I do is assist my crew and the ships under my command with projects, answer questions and make sure I keep abreast of their goals so that I can help remove blockers.

I am also the project coordinator for the TRMN presence at WorldCon. In that position, I schedule meetings, check on deliverables and deadlines, and step into gaps as needed. No, that doesn’t count as a hat.

What brought you to TRMN?

Vixen CO: I appreciated the fact that the local chapter, HMS Demon, went out of their way to create a safe party space at conventions. Also, I appreciate that there is no barrier to entry in TRMN, and no probationary period.

Demon CO: Rick Waterson…let me back up. So, I go to my first Regional Burn, “Lakes of Fire” (think Burning Man with 3% of the attendees in a forest that has a big ol’ lake in the middle. Sound better than 100,000 people in the dessert. Does to me too.) They have camps-groups of people who come together to create a “room party” out of tents and other temporary structures. It is also 100% volunteer run. When you are at Burn, you are on staff:  garbage duty, registration, facilities, etc. I fell in with a camp called “Tortuga”, a pirate themed camp that had some DJs and a bar. I really liked tending bar and I liked being a part of the event, participating in the event. Eight months later, my partner CMDR Wiedemann, who introduced me to Lakes of Fire, said “let’s go to CapriCon.” When I got there, I was drawn to the room parties. HMS Demon’s room party contrasted with all the others; it was well lit and well-staffed. It was holding true to its name as a safe space. This was something I wanted to participate in, keep going. So, I joined but what really brought me back was Rick Waterson, who is bosun of the Demon. I was wandering around and kept eying the fan table that Rick was staffing. He clocked me on my second pass and asked if I wanted to join, I said I had and wanted to help break the room down. Crossing his arms in that way SNCOs do over his dress uniform he told me, “Well better get up there Spacer.” And that’s how the Chief made an honest spacer out of a pirate. It was the room party that brought me in, but it was the merit-based system, and the fact that it was not some character I made up who was accountable, it was me. No mask to hide behind as it were. Once I joined that was it. I was in, no “buts” about it. I was S3C Dietzmann, and I was participating in a group providing a safe space at a con. You don’t see that in a lot of fan groups. No one told me I had to prove myself, my presence and activity was appreciated from go.

If any, what real life skills has TRMN helped you learn, or current skills have been fine-tuned?

Vixen CO: I am middle management at a pest control company. My time as CO has helped give me experience in leadership and confidence to lead a successful team. This experience has helped get me earmarked for promotion at the business.

Demon CO: Trusting myself to be a leader. I never really thought I could lead or manage anyone, but in the 3 years I have been a member I am now looking for jobs in management and training. The War College and being a CO has really been a part of that.

What conventions do you regularly attend?

Vixen CO: WorldCon, WindyCon and CapriCon in Chicago, MarCon in Columbus Future appearances will occur at Starbase Indy.

Demon CO: CapriCon, WindyCon, ChiCon 8, and MarCon.

Tell us something unique about yourself.

Vixen CO: I have done circus arts professionally, including fire spinning, flow arts, and “pain proof” acts including human pincushion and glass walking.

I have also enjoyed exploring the undercity of Chicago and have a reputation as the “rat hunter”, spearing a 1-foot rat with rebar in an under bridge. Come to WorldCon and I’ll point out where.

Demon CO: I have a degree in Film Production. It took me 8 years to lose 100 lbs. Honestly, I am average.

Do you belong to any other fandoms?

Vixen CO: BarFleet, Underground Theater

Demon CO: BarFleet Adjacent, but I am not a member.

In your opinion, what is one thing TRMN does right, that sets us aside from other fandoms?

Vixen CO: TRMN is truly one of the most merit-based fan organizations I have seen. The recognition of members, whether through awards or promotions, is an excellent system. The opportunity for anyone, not just COs, to put anyone in for an award sets us apart.

Demon CO: Organization, clearly laid out paths to positions, merit-based recognition, and a dang online store – Holy crap!

In your opinion, what is one thing TRMN could improve upon?

Vixen CO: Our social media presence, specifically what I’m going to categorize as “quick media”. (Tok, Insta, Twitter, etc.) We have an excellent presence on older platforms such as Facebook, but not much information for standards even for moderately aged platforms such as Discord. Creating a template for ships to use for servers would be an excellent starting point that BuShips could hand over to the CO when a ship is commissioned/recommissioned. That would have a more physical impact to make it feel like you just got your ship.

As for quick media, having ship accounts seems like excess, but the goal is to create content to bring in a wider audience. Having Task Group/Force COs work together to curate an account for their area of operation would, in my opinion, create the best feedback.

Demon CO: I have some questions for Bureaus, but I feel it would be more appropriate to get inside and see how things are done and learn the whys and whatfors first. Perhaps some broad guidelines about what is expected of Task Group COs. There are a few initiatives my staff are working on that I hope to see impact not just recruitment but engagement as well. We face a new hurdle of 10,000 members, we can do it, but we may need to test some new methods and retire some that we just aren’t seeing a return on investment from as we did in the past.

Where do you see yourself in the next five years with TRMN?

Vixen CO: Staying in local leadership, wherever I’m needed in 2nd Fleet. I hope to pass on the white beret to the next person to lead the Vixen.

Demon CO: Where I am needed…haha. In all honesty, I am at a point in exams where I can go bosun to admiral if needed. But if I had my druthers, I would love to dive into BuPers headfirst for a while once I am out of the chapter chain of command. I like the people management side of the organization; my heart rating is navy counselor after all. But after that, when I want a break for a little bit? I want to earn my gunny rocker and go be a marine for a while. Step back and focus on just one little part of the organization and do what I can there. And maybe, just maybe finally finish my warrant project.

The adage of “The Captain goes down with the ship” is something I have chewed on for a while as to what that means in TRMN to me. What I have settled on is that the CO serves the interest of the crew. Your projects and personal goals should come secondary to that of your crew. You need to have ideas to get the ball rolling initially but at a certain point, quite quickly, my crews’ ideas were better than mine. I see my job as CO as to help my crew toward what they want to do, support their goals and get them in contact with the right people so they can make it happen. To make sure their efforts are recognized. They set the destination and I help plot the course.

Thank you to “The Captains” for sharing a bit of their story with us this month. If you are interested in being featured in future articles, please email ladyglencairn01@gmail.com.

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