FORT GEORGE G. MEADE, Md. (NNS) -- "Mass Communication Specialist rating arriving!"
Such were the words passed through the halls at the Defense Information School June 30, during a cake-cutting ceremony held in tribute and honor of the four media ratings that officially will merge into the mass communication specialist rating July 1.
Navy students, staff, and faculty as well as honored guests stood together to say good-bye to the photographer's mate, lithographer, journalist and illustrator draftsman ratings and to celebrate the birth of the mass communication specialist, as Cmdr. Steve Lowry, the DINFOS Navy Element commander, tolled the bell to welcome the new rating.
Prior to the welcoming of the new rating, the senior-enlisted DINFOS Sailors of all four ratings paid tribute to their respective rating, reading brief histories and then sounding the Navy bell in their rating's honor. Simultaneously, first-class petty officers of each rating cut the cake. The ceremonious cuts resulted in two slices of cake that were in turn presented to two of the Navy's newest mass communication specialists - Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Eric Bodkin and Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class (SW) Norban Taylor.
"The ceremony was great," said Taylor, who graduated from the Basic Public Affairs Specialist-Writer course today. Ceremonies like this symbolize the "long-standing traditions of the Navy; it's what sets us apart from the other services. I was very happy to be a part of it."
The guest speaker of the ceremony was Army Col. Hiram Bell Jr., the DINFOS commandant.
"(Colonel Bell) is one of the supporters of the realignment of the (media ratings) community," said Mass Communication Specialist Senior Chief (SW/AW) Cathy Brenneman, the mistress of ceremonies. "It was truly an honor having him join us today on this very special occasion."
For Bell, being the guest speaker at the ceremony was a great honor, as he stands and has stood at the DINFOS helm throughout the planning stages of the rating merger.
"The reason the Navy did this - in my view - was to bring the commanders and warfighters the communication support they need to successfully complete their mission," Bell said. "There was truly a lot of thought that went into merging these job skills. The military must evolve and transform. This was the right answer."
"Over time the mass communication specialists will assume the same culture and traditions of their namesake ratings. All MCs should take pride in the fact that they lead the way in this transformation."
Brenneman, a former photographer's mate, echoed Bell's sentiments of remembrance as she, too, stood proudly in representation of the PH rating.
"I hope (the Sailors) here felt a sense of pride as the histories of all the ratings were read," she said. "And, I hope they remember this day as we make the transformation to MC."
Before the ceremony, Brenneman walked around the event area and spoke to many of the guests who attended the ceremony. A few guests in particular caught her eye, and to her "drove home" what the rating merger means for all PHs, LIs, JOs, and DMs who attended the ceremony. Standing in the shadows of the ceremony were retirees who attended the ceremony to also say good-bye and pay tribute to the ratings they served so many years ago.
Retired Master Chief Petty Officer Jimmie Bell was one such attendee. For him, the ceremony was the right answer in saying fair winds and following seas to his journalist rating and the other media ratings of his shipmates, both past and present.
"It truly was a classy way to say good-bye," Bell said as he congratulated the DINFOS Sailors on the ceremony. "I was glad to be a part of it."
"We should remember fondly (our) brothers and sisters in your respective ratings," Brenneman said. "But, at the same time welcome our new brothers and sisters with the mass communication specialist family."
The transformation and creation of the mass communication specialist rating is the vision of the current Navy Chief of Information, Rear Adm. "T." McCreary.
"I want the basic MC A-school graduate to be able to write stories, shoot storytelling pictures and video and deliver that information in multiple formats to multiple customers from anywhere in the world."
As written in the news story by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class (SW) Ryan Valverde, of USS Bonhomme Richard Public Affairs, the new MC rating badge consists of a satellite orbiting a globe with four lightning bolts. The globe represents the mass communication specialists' ability to accomplish the mission worldwide. The satellite and orbit signify use of the most advanced technology to transmit media products to the point of impact. The lightning bolts reflect the immediacy of the modern media environment, and the critical need for rapid dissemination of digitized video, audio, text and graphics.
"I think this insignia represents moving into the 21st Century media age and beyond," wrote Rear Adm. 'T' McCreary, Navy Chief of Information, in an e-mail discussing the rating badge. "It ties us (the four rates) all together as a single community of communication professionals."