VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (NNS) -- Aircraft carriers USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) and PCU John F. Kennedy (CVN 79) pinned 34 Sailors to the rank of chief petty officer (CPO) in a ceremony at the Sandler Center for the Performing Arts Sept. 13.
The event was the culmination of nearly six weeks of training. Ford and Kennedy pinned 31 and three chiefs, respectively, before a crowd of their shipmates, families, friends and members of the Hampton Roads community.
While celebrating this time-honored naval tradition, Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy (MCPON) Russell Smith wrote in the FY20 CPO Charge Letter, “Those selected should take a knee and contemplate all the experiences that have brought [them] to this milestone.”
“You’ve worked hard to demonstrate that you have the skills, talents and abilities,” Smith said to the selectees. "Now you will contribute to the Navy in an even more meaningful way.”
The senior enlisted adviser for Program Executive of Ships and SEA21, Command Master Chief Antonio Perryman, spoke about what it means to have these new chiefs join the chiefs' mess.
“You must not only guide and encourage your people, but you must also instill principles of sounds leadership and ensure that they are qualified and prepared to carry out their duties," Perryman said. "Your new position carries the obligation to explain the established rules and regulations.”
Newly pinned Chief Culinary Specialist Naomi Jackson, from Surrey, England, assigned to Ford’s supply department, said that during this experience she grew as a person and as a Sailor and now has the tools to better take care of her Sailors as the chief.
“By being on the deckplates with my Sailors, I can better guide them, teach them and mold them. I will be that highly visible, confident chief.”
Chief Electrician’s Mate (Nuclear) Kevin Stambaugh, from Lake Odessa, Michigan, assigned to Kennedy’s reactor department, explained what it was like to go through the process with Ford’s chiefs.
“What I did not expect is for them to accept me so easily. I have never met any of them [chief selects] of Ford’s chiefs before. It was great how they accepted us and integrated us, and it was a great overall experience.”
Perryman also had a few last words of advice on the way these chiefs, and those before them, execute their new responsibilities:
“Know your Sailors. It is your new job. The first step in taking care of a Sailor is knowing them, what motivates them and what’s inside their lives. And as a leader, ask yourself if you are the leader you want your Sailors to be,” Perryman said.
At the conclusion of the ceremony, the newly pinned chiefs walked through sideboys during the two-bell ceremony and will soon return to their departments to carry out their new duties and responsibilities as “the chief.”
Gerald R. Ford is a first-in-class aircraft carrier and the first new carrier designed in more than 40 years. Ford is undergoing its post-shakedown maintenance availability at Huntington Ingalls Industries-Newport News Shipbuilding.
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For more news from USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78), visit www.navy.mil/local/cvn78/.