The Gator Nation is Everywhere
We've all heard the mantra, but how true is it?
PADANG, Indonesia (October 10, 2009): Commander, Amphibious Force Seventh
Fleet, Rear Adm. Richard Landolt teaches the "Gator Chomp" to children outside
the Humanitarian Assistance Rapid Response Team (HARRT) medical facility in Padang,
Indonesia. Landolt visited the hospital, which provided free medical treatment
to Indonesian citizens of west Sumatra following two earthquakes. Amphibious
Force Seventh Fleet is directing the U.S. military response from a request by
the Indonesian government for assistance and support for humanitarian efforts.
(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Byron C. Linder)
Photo: Byron C. Linder
One UF alumnus found this mantra to be extremely true through several
first-hand experiences. He even helped spread Gator spirit across the globe.
Rear Admiral Richard B. Landolt is the Commander of Amphibious Force 7th
Fleet in Okinawa, Japan, and earned his B.A. in Political Science from
UF in 1981. He has command of nine ships in Japan and refers to five of
his amphibious ships as "Gator ships."
Through his job in the navy and his past work with NATO, Landolt has traveled
extensively through Europe and Southeast Asia.
"I always bump into the Gator Nation wherever I am overseas," Landolt
For example, in Fukuoka, Japan, Landolt worked with Margot and William
Carrington, both UF graduates. Margot Carrington is the Principal Officer
of the U.S. Consulate in Fukuoka. They reminisced about teachers they both
"We refer to our endeavors together in Japan as 'Gator diplomacy' even," Landolt
While working overseas, Landolt interacted with some children in an Indonesian
hospital. He explained to them the concept of a college mascot and football
games. He even taught them the Gator chomp, after noticing his friend,
a University of Georgia graduate, about a hundred yards away.
"We marched down to the other end of the hospital and we all demonstrated
our Gator spirit to my Georgia friend," he said. "It was great and the
kids loved doing it."
Landolt is a big Gator sports fan even through thick and thin.
"The football team went 0-10-1 my senior year," he said. "It was a tough
In addition to his commitment to Gator athletics, Landolt is committed
to humanitarian assistance too.
Three of Landolt's ships were en route to the Philippines for an exercise
when disaster struck. In a span of three days, September 29 to October
1, a typhoon hit Manila, Philippines; three earthquakes hit Sumatra, Indonesia;
and a tsunami hit the Samoan Islands. U.S. ships from Hawaii assisted in
Samoa, while two of Landolt's ships were sent to the Philippines and one
ship was sent to Indonesia (and was later joined by two other ships from
the 7th Fleet).
Landolt was assigned as the Mission Commander for all U.S. forces in Indonesia.
He was constantly surprised at the willingness of people to help out. One
day, as part of the relief effort, he boarded a Marine Corps heavy-lift
helicopter to help deliver relief supplies. They found a very small landing
spot in the forest.
"After we landed, people came out from the forest and a spontaneous 'conga
line' was started to help move material out of the helicopter to a nearby
staging area," Landolt said. "Very spontaneous and very orderly."
Although Landolt loves his job and his time spent overseas, there's still
nothing like home.
"I've enjoyed every aspect of living overseas but it does make you more
appreciative of what we have in the U.S. after you return," he said.
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