Story by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class James Ku
PHILLIPINE SEA – Fifty-five first class petty officers were promoted to the rank of chief petty officer Sept. 15, in the hangar bay of the Navy’s forward-deployed aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76).
This ceremony is a defining moment in the careers of the chief petty officers who became part of the newest generation in a 124-year line of Navy leadership.
“The ceremony was awesome,” said Master Chief Culinary Specialist Carl Demus, from Washington. “This is one of those days that you look forward to as a chief petty officer. It’s something that we all [navy chiefs] can relate to. We put our heart and soul into everything, but we really put our heart and soul into this.”
To many of the new chief petty officers, this ceremony is the result of the support they received throughout their careers.
“It’s the culmination of everything that my mentors, previous chiefs, Sailors that have worked so hard for me, the support my family has given me and the work I have put it,” said Chief Machinist’s Mate (Nuclear) Rigil Christensen, from Birchwood, Wisconsin. “It’s an overwhelming sensation and the pride of joining such a powerful mess is amazing.”
Before the ceremony, they went through a six week training process, which included physical training, organizing fundraising events, and many other forms of leadership training.
“I had fun with it,” said Christensen. “The process was challenging, but I find that it’s very helpful. There were lessons in everything we did and that’s the key. The Mess built the first stepping stone for each one of us and the next generation of chiefs. Their effort during the process was inspiring.”
Christensen said the Chief’s Mess trains their reliefs long before they reach the chief select process, and urges junior Sailors to take advantage of the knowledge and experience the chiefs possess.
“Keep to the grindstone if you want to succeed – you have to work for it, but you also need to understand that you aren’t doing it alone. Everyone has their peers, mentors, their chief, every chief at the command and their family,” said Christensen. “Rely on their advice and expertise and learn all you can along the way.”
The Chief’s Mess aboard Ronald Reagan now has 55 more leaders with knowledge, experience and expertise.