CAMP DWYER, AFGHANISTAN
CAMP DWYER, HELMAND PROVINCE, Afghanistan — A unique ceremony took place in Afghanistan's "Desert of Death" in which two petty officers first class were promoted to the Navy's exclusive rank of chief.
Troy B. Martin and Jeff George crossed over into the Navy's prestigious senior enlisted ranks at the Combat Logistics Battalion 8 compound Sept. 16.
Martin, a corpsman individually augmented to Bravo Medical Company, Combat Logistics Regiment 2, said, "Having this ceremony with both Marines and Sailors brought my whole career together." He explained that he has spent most of his time in the Navy with Marine Corps units, and it is fitting that Marines would be present for his promotion to chief.
One of the distinct differences between this particular ceremony and one taking place with just Navy personnel was the uniform. In a typical Navy ceremony, the Sailors to be promoted wear the kaki uniform reserved for chiefs and officers.
With a Marine Corps promotion, the only major ceremonial practice is the pinning of the new rank to which the Marine is being appointed. During a promotion to chief petty officer, not only is the new rank insignia pinned, a new cover is placed on the head of the Sailor being promoted because Navy chiefs wear a distinct cover. This practice symbolizes the transformation to chief and the assumption of the new responsibilities accompanying the promotion.
As this promotion ceremony took place in a combat zone in Afghanistan, the desert camouflage uniform cover was used rather than the traditional Navy combination cover.
"It is an honor to be promoted in front of not just my Sailors, but my Marines as well," said George, a corpsman attached to CLB-8 and Union Town, Pa., native. Supporting Marine Corps units is a primary mission for many corpsmen, so it just seems right for Marines to be present for this promotion, he added.
Lt. Col. Ronald C. Braney, the commanding officer of CLB-8, told the Marines and Sailors that the ceremony they witnessed was more than just a promotion. George and Martin are now part of an elite group of Sailors. The rank of chief is a small group, which can be described as a fraternity of the best Sailors in the Navy.
"Promotion to chief petty officers gives an individual an increase in trust and responsibility," said Senior Chief Petty Officer David Barnet, regimental senior chief, Regimental Combat Team 3. "It forces them to become more of a leader when they become part of the chief's mess."
According to George, having Marines present for the ceremony was also positive because most people outside the Navy are not familiar with the major transition from petty officer first class to chief petty officer, and viewing a ceremony like this may help people understand the transition.
"The elevation of two corpsmen into the Navy's elite ranks during a meaningful ceremony in a combat zone among Marines demonstrates the enduring bond of the Navy-Marine Corps team," George reflected.
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