News: Chief Petty Officer Pinning Ceremony
CAMP LEMONNIER, Djibouti – More than 100 service members from all branches of the military convened on Camp Lemonnier to witness 19 sailors become U.S. Navy chief petty officers during a pinning ceremony, Sept. 14, 2012.
In a ceremony unique to the Navy, the chief selectees symbolized taking that next step by beginning and ending the event with a live rendition of the Navy song, “Anchors Aweigh.”
For the new chiefs, the ceremony marked the culmination of a career-long journey and the end of a rigorous six-week (six-week) induction process designed to instill in them the fundamentals of what Navy chief’s call “deck-plate leadership”. Their story however, does not end here.
“This is just the beginning,” said U.S. Navy Capt. Kevin Bertelsen, guest speaker and Camp Lemonnier’s commanding officer. “You now take a position of authority, responsibility, and integrity, earned through sustained achievement, commitment to professionalism, and a dedication to something much larger than yourself.”
Current chiefs agreed that it’s that very same dedication and the attitude of selflessness that drives many of them.
“Our mentality has to shift completely,” said newly pinned Chief Petty Officer Kristal Pena. “It’s not about just one person anymore; we have to learn to work and lead as a team.”
As Chief Petty Officer Ronnie Freeman explains, the induction process is crucial to the future success of more than just the chiefs.
“We try to teach our newer chiefs that leadership isn’t all about being in charge,” Freeman said. “It’s our duty to remember where we came from and pass on to junior sailors the knowledge it takes to succeed.”
This is a notion that new Chief Petty Officer Gregory Holt said he whole-heartedly accepted and hopes to put into action as he begins to lead sailors into the future.
“Sometimes, good leaders need to be good followers,” Holt said. “Effective teamwork leads to effective communication, and if you’re not doing those things, the job won’t get done.”
For veteran chiefs at Camp Lemonnier, the induction process also provided them an opportunity to improve their leadership skills as they instructed the selectees during the six-week process.
“As we instill the new chiefs with the fundamentals of what it takes to lead, we are also challenged as leaders,” said Freeman.
At the conclusion of the ceremony, the new chiefs were all smiles as they were officially welcomed into the chief’s mess as a part of the fiscal year 2013 chief petty officer inductees.
“The induction process was tough,” said Pena. “But now that everything we’ve learned has sunk in, it’s obvious that it was worth every moment.”