SAN DIEGO (NNS) -- Twenty-two first class petty officers completed the transformation to chief petty officer in the hangar bay on board USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) Sept. 17 in front of family and friends.
Reaching this achievement in their careers is more than a title-for these new chiefs, it symbolizes a new degree of responsibility, leadership and dedication.
"To be following in a line of 117 years of tradition means a lot me and all of us," said Chief Ship's Serviceman (SW/AW) Angel Escribano. "I came in as a seaman recruit, did my time, and now to be accepted into this great brotherhood means it was all worth it."
Good fortune shined for these new chiefs in more ways than one. Ronald Reagan was underway for the Navy-wide scheduled induction date, September 16. After being underway for the last two chief-pinning ceremonies, a major effort was made to have the induction date pushed one day so families could be present.
"In order to receive an exception from the Navy-wide date, we had to request both our force master chief and the Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy's authorizations," said Command Master Chief (AW/SW/SS) Mark Rudes. "It's great and wonderful for the families of our new chiefs to be present, so when the opportunity came for us to have the ceremony today instead of yesterday, we did everything in our power to make it happen."
The new chiefs say they're very grateful for their families to be present because they deserve it just as much. "My wife Melanie and our three kids got to be here and I'm so glad for that," said Chief Machinist's Mate (SW) Patrick Toy. "For us chiefs to have gotten where we are, we couldn't have done it without our families' love and support. For them to be here shows that we made it as a team, not as individuals."
"The pinning ceremony is a culmination of several months of work, struggle and preparation that has helped these selectees make the time-honored transition to chief petty officer," said Rudes. "Today we witness the results of the efforts these new CPOs put into training, learning and working to achieve their goals."
But to the new chiefs, the command master chief may have put it lightly. "I'm glad I went through this process on board Ronald Reagan," said Escribano. "They put this together to a T. It was an incredible process. I was truly selected, tested, and now, accepted."
Now Ronald Reagan's Chief's Mess has 22 new members, and the senior members of the mess say they are thrilled with the additions.
"As chairman of the induction this year, it's been absolutely worthwhile to watch these Sailors make the transformation from first class petty officer to chief," said Master Chief Electronics Technician (SW/AW) James Ritch. "I've watched them push themselves well beyond what they thought were their limits and accomplish every task set forth."
"Today, with their families and fellow chiefs pinning on their anchors and giving them their combination caps, we all share a sense of pride and worth," Ritch continued. "I am moved to have witnessed it."
In the Bluejacket's Manual, it's written that "the position of chief petty officer is one of special honor. It shows not only that you have served successfully, but that your service has met with the commendation of your seniors, that you are proficient, trustworthy and reliable." These are words Ronald Reagan's new chiefs are not taking lightly.
"I can honestly say that being a part of this mess and pinning on chief is the result of working with great Sailors over the years; they are the ones who helped me get here," explained Chief Aviation Support Equipment Technician Kristy Torres. "Today my commitment expanded to include not just my Sailors, but my new family in the mess as well."
After all the applause and handshakes, tears of joy and hugs from loved ones, Ronald Reagan's new chief petty officers know there is a lot expected of them.
"As you look at these new chief petty officers, remember these chiefs are the senior-enlisted leadership of both today and tomorrow's Navy," said Rudes. "A historic precedence has been set, and we are all confident they will live up to it."
For more news from USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76), visit www.navy.mil/local/cvn76/.