News: 34 years of naval service
Story by Lance Cpl. James Smith
IWAKUNI, Japan - Some service members choose to take the officer’s route during their enlisted careers. For one sailor, this decision came 12 years after enlisted service.
“My long-term goal, at the time, was just to become a chief petty officer in the United States Navy,” said Navy Capt. Moise Willis, Robert M. Casey Medical and Dental Branch Health Clinic Iwakuni officer-in-charge.
Willis enlisted in the United States Navy on June 26, 1978. After completing recruit training in Orlando, Fla., Willis graduated from Hospital Corpsman School in San Diego. Then in 1987, Willis reached the rank of chief petty officer.
“When I made chief so fast, within nine years, that’s when I decided I needed to do something else,” said Willis.
Willis decided to return to school under the Medical Enlisted Commissioning Program in 1988. Willis graduated from Hampton University in Virginia with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing in May 1991, and was commissioned as an ensign in the Nurse Corps.
Even though Willis made the switch from enlisted to officer, his motivation to stay in medicine came from an early exposure from his family.
“As a kid, growing up in Sumter, South Carolina, I had an older brother who went into medicine and became a podiatrist, or foot doctor” said Willis. “I also had an older cousin who would take us to the lab at the University of South Carolina and he was a pharmacy major. So when I joined the Navy, I knew I wanted to do something in medicine and became a hospital corpsman.”
Everything in Willis’ career was influenced by not only the enlisted personnel he worked with, but from many of his high-ranking officers as well Willis said.
During his career, he had the opportunity to work alongside one of his most memorable mentors, Rear Adm. Karen Flaherty, Nurse Corps director.
With 34 years of service and numerous awards, Willis plans to become an admiral and achieve his ultimate goal of becoming the first male nurse admiral in the Navy.
“This is one thing I would tell any person: take advantage of the opportunities given to them, never burn your bridges, and always leave knowing you can reach back,” said Willis. “There is no place you can go that you don’t know somebody, and your reputation will follow you, regardless of wherever you go.”