Brig. Gen. John E Wissler, deputy commanding general of Multi National Force- West, attends the Chief Petty Officer pinning ceremony aboard Al Asad Air Base, Iraq, September 17, 2009. During the ceremony that occurs once a year, 15 sailors were promoted to chief at the base theater.
Lance Cpl. Jason Hernandez
AL ASAD AIR BASE, Iraq – Fifteen sailors from a multitude of occupational fields were promoted to the rank of chief petty officer aboard Al Asad Air Base, Iraq, Sept. 16, 2009.
The ceremony is an annual event, in which all chief petty officer selects are put through a rigorous one month-long selection process to instill the skills and disciplines necessary to become a chief. It is the first rank which not only requires a high level of proficiency in their jobs, but also requires a peer review.
By allowing peers to choose who becomes a chief and who doesn’t, the Navy allows only those who are believed to be ready to carry out the responsibilities of a senior enlisted service member thoroughly, efficiently and diligently.
The rank of chief petty officer was established by the Department of the Navy in 1893, and has remained in the service without pause ever since. The U.S. Coast Guard has also had chief petty officers in their ranks since 1920.
In addition to the pay raise, the chief petty officers are now expected to carry out more extensive duties, such as administrative tasks.
“This is the best feeling of my life,” said newly-promoted Chief Petty Officer Brian C. Smith, a senior corpsmen with Regimental Combat Team 8. “This is the culmination of 18 years of hard work.”
While the ceremony was followed by a reception and greeted with general celebration, some stopped to reflect on those to whom they owed thanks.
“I wouldn’t be here right now had it not been for the young sailors under me,” said
Chief Petty Officer Alvin W. Clark, a hazardous materials chief with RCT-8, who was also promoted at the ceremony. “Their hard work and dedication helped me to become the chief petty officer that I am today. That combined with the leadership training I’ve received has taught me how to be a chief.”
Due to base regulations, the new chiefs could not don their new khaki uniforms or caps, but will instead spend the rest of their deployments in the same uniforms they’d arrived wearing. However, it is the knowledge that they’ll leave Iraq wearing the anchor insignia of the chief that will leave them with the greatest pride.