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U.S. Fleet Forces Command Pins New Chiefs

29 January 2021

From Mass Communications Specialist 1st Stacy Atkins Ricks

In a ceremony steeped in tradition, U.S. Fleet Forces Command (USFFC) held a chief petty officer (CPO) pinning ceremony, Jan. 29, 2021, at the USFFC headquarters in Norfolk, Virginia.

In a ceremony steeped in tradition, U.S. Fleet Forces Command (USFFC) held a chief petty officer (CPO) pinning ceremony, Jan. 29, 2021, at the USFFC headquarters in Norfolk, Virginia.

After weeks of training and mentorship, Chief Intelligence Specialist Joshua Waldrop, from Newnan, Georgia, and Chief Aerographer’s Mate Travis Strait, from Columbus, Mississippi, were pinned to the rank of chief petty officer with their immediate families in attendance and their shipmates watching virtually from around the world.

Adm. Christopher W. Grady, USFFC commander, presided over the ceremony highlighting the effort it takes to reach this career milestone.

“We know that it takes years of hard work and dedication to make it to this point; sacrifices that you have made to be here — that you and your families together have made. You have demonstrated the ability to perform at the next level and that you have a mastery of your craft, and just as importantly the ability to use your talent and knowledge to be leaders, mentors, to train the next generation of the Navy,” said Grady.

While COVID changed the face of the traditional CPO season and pinning, USFFC’s Command Master Chief Alicia Kirkland was grateful the command could find a safe way to celebrate the moment that brings everything full circle.

“Pinning means ‘I did it! I am accepted!’, said Kirkland. “[It was] one of the proudest moments of my life and definitely the proudest personal moment of my naval career. Although this season was very unique, I am confident that learning did occur. First class petty officers transitioned to chief petty officers, which is the most important part of the process. I am confident that we got it done, and got it done right.”

Strait reflected on what he learned during the season, and a valuable lesson he received.

“My biggest take away from this season is that I did not know as much as I thought I did and that’s okay,” said Strait. “No one cares how much you know until they know how much you care. That is something I want every Sailor to understand, no matter where they are in their career.”

“I was able to take some of the knowledge and lessons learned by generations of Chiefs that have come before me,” added Waldrop. “It’s truly an honor to be able to add my own experiences to the Chief’s Mess.”

As they begin the next chapter of their careers as “The Chief,” Strait and Waldrop will always remember the village that got them here.

“Perseverance, a positive attitude and a lot of love from a lot of people is what got me here,” beamed Strait. “All of this is a culmination of all the hard work of my team, junior Sailors, and leaders. This was a team effort, this body of work is not mine alone.”

I think it's important to remember where you come from,” echoed Waldrop. “It helps put you in your junior Sailors’ shoes and consider what they’re facing. That’s what keeps you grounded as a leader, as the Chief. I am genuinely grateful to all of those who believed in me and got me here, and put their trust in me to help guide the next generation of Sailors.”

As they transition into their roles as deckplate leaders, Grady concluded the ceremony with encouraging words about the profound impact they’ll have on those they lead, guide and mentor.

“You must remember that this is all about the center of the universe and that’s our Sailors. So be that visible leader,” said Grady. “You now carry the torch and assume the mantle of the many Chiefs that have come before you. You have my trust and confidence. Be steadfast in your counsel; be devoted to your Sailors, and be exemplars of our Navy’s Core Values. Know that you have earned those anchors but wear them with humility and pride. Remember this is not an end state, this is a new beginning. I am proud to serve side by side with you and your families.”


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