PHILIPPINE SEA (NNS) -- The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Benfold frocked 38 first, second and third class petty officers and promoted six ensigns to lieutenant junior grade on the ship's flight deck, during a Memorial Day celebration May 28.
The promotion ceremony took place shortly after the crew was treated to dinner on the flight deck as part of a steel beach picnic.
Cmdr. Leroy Mitchell, commanding officer of Benfold, gave each of the newly frocked Sailors a frocking letter and congratulated them on their advancement.
"It's been a great time for everyone to get together and enjoy each other's company following the steel beach to help pick up morale on the ship," Mitchell said. "It's one of the ways we can show commitment to the crew and show how much we care for them."
Fire Controlman (Aegis) 2nd Class Ismael Rodriguez, one of the Sailors frocked, was appreciative of the hard work that went into making the day such a memorable one.
"It really pays tribute to what the Navy is all about," Rodriguez said. "Getting promoted on such a special day for the Navy and for the United States really is a great feeling, and I'm thankful to everyone who made this day possible."
Originally coined Decoration Day, Memorial Day was officially declared a national holiday by Congress in 1971, when the date was moved from May 30 to the last Monday in May.
Mitchell said he was grateful to be underway with Benfold's crew for this holiday in particular.
"I can think of no other place I'd rather be right now than out at sea with [the crew] today," Mitchell said. "It's a day to think about all the sacrifices some people have made and about all the Sailors who gave their lives in these waters we sail in."
Benfold's Executive Officer Cmdr. Robert McFarlin shared a similar sentiment.
"This is such an exciting day because these are our Sailors and our officers and we've trained them and mentored them and now get to see them all move into greater responsibility," McFarlin said. "It's an overwhelming feeling, especially on Memorial Day, while out here defending the American people."
Benfold is currently forward-deployed to the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operations in support of security and stability in the Indo-Pacific region.
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