SAN DIEGO (NNS) -- Sixteen Sailors assigned to amphibious assault ship USS Boxer (LHD 4) earned the title of "chief" during a chief petty officer (CPO) pinning ceremony on the flight deck, Sept. 16.
Boxer's newest chief petty officers are:
Chief Aviation Electronics Technician Christopher Barnes
Chief Hospital Corpsman Donald Browning
Chief Aviation Electrician's Mate Clifford Clemente
Chief Aviation Ordnanceman Alexander Conora
Chief Electronics Technician Josue Delgado
Chief Aviation Electronics Technician Aaron Gabel
Chief Boatswain's Mate Eric Johnson
Chief Machinist's Mate Victor Manzogomez
Chief Aviation Boatswain's Mate (Handling) Onexi Medinaairzarry
Chief Quartermaster Brandon Pockell
Chief Logistics Specialist Bernam Tapang
Chief Legalman Glencora Thompson
Chief Machinery Repairman Matthew Travis
Chief Mass Communication Specialist Jessica Vargas
Chief Logistics Specialist Grace Wu
The ceremony was the culmination of a six-week training period known as CPO 365 Phase II, which began when the CPO advancement results were officially released. During Phase II, senior enlisted leaders introduced the chief selectees to myriad challenges designed to strengthen their leadership skills and to provide a better understanding of what it means to be a Navy chief. Phase II also included training on the history and traditions of the Chiefs Mess, physical challenges, mentorship and many additional responsibilities.
During the ceremony, retired Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy (MCPON) Rick D. West, the twelfth MCPON, said Boxer's newest chiefs should be proud of the rich heritage they have become a part of, and detailed the new responsibility that comes with leading Sailors from a greater level of trust.
"Put the 'less' in 'selfless,'" said West. "We throw that word around a lot and I think it's lost its meaning a bit. Work on putting other things first -- other people, other opportunities, other priorities. Being a chief doesn't mean you're above others; it means you're supportive of others. It means you get credit for less and your Sailors get more."
West also expressed the important contributions Navy families make in the achievement of the chief petty officer.
"The families, you probably have one of the most significant roles of anything we do in the military," said West. "You allow our service members to go over the horizon and do what they do. What a special treat to see them pin their anchors on."
Chief Boatswain's Mate Eric M. Johnson, one of Boxer's newest chief petty officers, who has served on active duty for 18-years, described his sentiment after finally achieving this career milestone.
"I want to thank the Sailors who worked for me that helped get me here when I am, when I was a [petty officer] first class, as well as my family," said Johnson. "It touched my heart when I received my chief's anchors; it was really overwhelming."
After being pinned with their gold fouled anchors, each chief received a combination cover signifying a new position of leadership and responsibility. Johnson reflected on his career and offered perspective to future chiefs.
"Anything is possible," said Johnson. "I accomplished my goal by becoming a chief petty officer after 18 years. My advice for Sailors coming up through the ranks is there's no shortcut to success. You have to work hard to become a chief."
Boxer returned to its homeport of San Diego Sept. 12, following a seven-month deployment to the 3rd, 5th, and 7th Fleet areas of operation.
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