Five Sailors enjoyed the opportunity to wear a new uniform for the first time, Friday, Sept. 13 as they traded their first class petty officer uniforms for those of a Navy Chief.
Aviation Boatswain Mates LeDerrick Garrison, Vandie Smith, Carlos Peralta, Chad Whitta, and Bradley Anthony were frocked to their new ranks during a pinning ceremony at Naval Air Station Whiting Field’s Atrium building. A sixth Whiting Field Sailor was also selected for promotion, however, Chief Master-at-Arms Kenneth Pratt is serving on an individual augmentee tour in Afghanistan.
Putting on the Chief Petty Officer uniform is one of the proudest moments in a Sailor’s career, and NAS Whiting Field Commanding Officer Capt. Matthew Coughlin emphasized the impact of the role Chiefs embody, during his remarks as the guest speaker.
“My father was a WWII Sailor and until the day he died, he remembered the names of the Chief Petty Officers he served with. So I would advise these [new chiefs] to never, ever underestimate their influence on either our junior Sailors or their impact on Navy leadership,” he stated.
The brief ceremony began with the parading of the colors, the playing of the national anthem, and a few words from Command Master Chief Alton Smith about the importance of the day’s events. He then welcomed the new Chiefs who entered singing a rousing rendition of ‘Anchors Aweigh’. Following Coughlin’s remarks, Chief Air Traffic Controller Rachael Garcia read the meaning behind the fouled anchor which serves as the rank insignia for chief petty officers.
With the five new Chiefs standing at attention, the moment they were waiting for finally arrived, and each was called forward in turn for their family and friends to pin on their new rank, and a Chief to place the khaki combination covers on their heads. All Chiefs in the audience were then requested to stand for the reading of the Chiefs creed.
Garrison, Smith, Peralta, Whitta and Anthony were then each piped through the sideboys, introduced to the audience, and joined the formation of chief petty officers off to the side of the audience. For the new Chiefs and their families, the ceremony marked a major milestone in their careers and served as an event they plan to never forget.
“From the day you enlist, you see the Chief. It’s what you aspire to. It’s what you dream about,” Anthony said after the ceremony. “This is a new beginning for all six of us. We are eternally thankful for all of the hard work of the many Sailors that were left in our charge. Without them we would not be standing here.”
The achievement is certainly a great moment in their careers, but along with the advantages and privileges of being a chief petty officer, also comes greater responsibility and accountability to the chain of command.
“There are a lot of hard decisions that need to be made by the command, and the Chiefs’ Mess has a huge input into those decisions, and I rely on that,” Coughlin said. “I am incredibly proud of these six Sailors.”
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