Chris Smith: Santa Rosa High grad and ‘Top Gun’ fan now commands the aircraft carrier Theodore Roosevelt

Brett Crozier’s mom isn’t saying that the abilities he honed by delivering the PD as a kid prepared him for what has to be one of the most demanding, complex, life-or-death jobs on Earth.

But she’s saying it helped.

Crozier, who graduated from SRHS in 1988 and went on to the U.S. Naval Academy, has just become captain of the aircraft carrier Theodore Roosevelt.

One of the world’s largest and most heavily armed warships, “Big Stick” is nearly as long as the Empire State Building is tall. It carries a crew and air wing totaling more than 5,000 (more people than live in Guerneville) and about ?90 aircraft.

Gina Crozier believes her son’s days as a PD carrier in 1982, when he was 12, played a role in his development into the man he’s become.

Gina, a Santa Rosa family and child counselor, figures that delivering the PD every day and collecting payments each month taught Brett “fortitude and people skills.” She credits also the work the teenage Brett did as a lifeguard, sailing instructor and kiddie train operator at Howarth Park

And she credits Tom Cruise.

Brett was about 16 when he went to a Santa Rosa theater to see “Top Gun,” about the training of elite Navy fighter pilots.

“I swear, that’s what inspired him,” Gina said.

At 18, Brett Crozier was nominated to the Naval Academy by then-Congressman Doug Bosco. Following graduation, Crozier the Navy officer trained to fly the Seahawk helicopter, then the F/A-18 Hornet fighter.

Prior to taking command of the USS Theodore Roosevelt in San Diego, the father of three skippered the amphibious command ship USS Blue Ridge, which was commissioned the same year Crozier was born - 1970 - and is the oldest operational ship in the Navy.

Trivia question: Had Crozier become captain of the Theodore Roosevelt last February, he would have met on board what actor shooting what film?

Tom Cruise.

“Top Gun: Maverick.”


FOUND IT WHERE? Just days ago, a friend told me she’d twice lost something of great personal value and twice she found the items in such inexplicable places that she could conclude only that an angel had placed them there.

Now this: I wrote in August of a woman who was at a Montgomery Village concert when she noticed that her quite lovely, quite costly diamond ring had slipped from her finger.

She offered a reward for its return, but it remained lost.

“Last Friday morning,” she tells me now, “my ring showed up mysteriously at church, under the corner of a floor mat in the kitchen.”

She said she had not been at church the day she lost her ring, “and, of course, the floors in the kitchen have been cleaned many times in the past three months.”


A ‘THANK YOU’ is sweet.

But grateful third graders at Whited School thought that following the Kincade fire, Santa Rosa firefighters might appreciate being invited to come by the Rincon Valley campus for apple pies baked by the students.

The firefighters did.


HONK IF YOU, too, like the personalized license plate on a pickup that bears also a sticker of artist Mikayla Butchart’s “Rose-ilience” graphic of flower-like grasped hands.

The plate pleads:


You can reach Columnist Chris Smith at 707 521-5211 and

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