PENSACOLA, Fla. (NNS) -- Seventy Sailors from commands at Naval Air Station (NAS) Pensacola, NAS Pensacola Corry Station and NAS Whiting Field officially joined the chief petty officer (CPO) ranks in two pinning ceremonies Sept. 15.
At NAS Pensacola, Senior Chief Aviation Maintenance Administrationman Shawn Fleming said a plan that started 10 months ago with over 400 chiefs from 16 Chiefs Messes in a "true to form" team effort provided a meaningful and challenging initiation experience for the chief selects.
"'Then, Now and Forever' was the theme for the fiscal year 18 CPO season, which has been shaped to sync up with the master chief petty officer of the Navy's emphasis on being a confidently humble leader, to be authentic, competent and courageous," said Fleming, who led the CPO 365 Phase II program, or initiation, for many of the commands in the greater Pensacola area.
CPO 365 is a year-long program designed to ensure the Chiefs Mess and first class petty officers are continually and steadily developing to succeed in future leadership positions. The program affords command leadership the flexibility to conduct education and training in alignment with the Navy Ethos and Navy Core Values of honor, courage and commitment.
"It's an absolute honor to be selected to chief petty officer," said Chief Cryptologic Technician (Technical) Scott Searcy, who is a Naval Education and Training Command instructor of the year and teaches at Information Warfare Training Command (IWTC) Corry Station. "I didn't get here by myself. It took many Sailors and mentors helping me and molding me into the Sailor I am today. Now it's my turn to give back, and that is an honor I will not take lightly."
Since advancement results were announced six weeks ago, the chief selects have participated in leadership discussions, team building, physical fitness activities, volunteering in the local community and networking.
"These past six weeks have given us the opportunity to directly shape the future of these new chief petty officers," said Command Senior Chief Thomas Alex, who was one of the leaders for the CPO 365 Phase II program at Corry Station. "The title of chief comes with great pride and great responsibility, and our team worked tirelessly to prepare our selectees for the challenges ahead. It is a privilege for me and for all of the Corry Station chiefs to welcome these Sailors into the Chiefs Mess."
The grade of chief petty officer was established in 1893, and since then, chiefs have played a critical role as leaders, examples for Sailors to follow, and as technical and institutional experts.
"This six-week process is to test them and try them, to make sure they have the necessary tools in their tool box to lead and train junior enlisted and officers, continuing the rich heritage and tradition the men and women chosen to wear the anchor have demonstrated for more than a century," said Command Master Chief Kirk Klawitter, Center for Naval Aviation Technical Training.
During both ceremonies held at Naval Air Technical Training Center's (NATTC) hangar bay, family and friends pinned two gold anchors on each new chief's khaki uniform, and then the Sailor's sponsor put a combination cover on the newly pinned chief.
"The responsibilities placed on a chief in the Navy is unlike any of the other services," said Command Master Chief Mike Hinkle, Naval Hospital Pensacola. "The day a Sailor is promoted to the rank of chief will be one the happiest days of their life."
For Chief Hospital Corpsman Lisa Shumaker, who was pinned by her parents Dave and Mandy Shumaker and her sponsor, the event was the culmination of years of preparation.
"We are all so grateful for everyone who has helped us along the way, from the chiefs who have mentored us to our families and friends who have supported us during our careers in the Navy," said Shumaker. "We are excited about what the future holds and can't wait to get to work."
Fleming, from NATTC, said that the selection to chief, the six weeks of initiation and finally the pinning ceremony can easily be considered a major milestone among their career and significant life events.
The new chief petty officers are serving at NAS Pensacola, NATTC, Naval Aviation Schools Command, the Blue Angels, NAS Whiting Field, Reserve units in the Gulf Coast area, Navy Recruiting Orientation Unit, Navy Medicine Operational Training Center, IWTC Corry Station, Naval Information Operations Command Pensacola and Naval Hospital Pensacola.
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