CORONADO, Calif. – A group of 11 Sailors were advanced to the rank of chief petty officer (CPO) during a pinning ceremony sponsored by the staff of Commander, Naval Surface Force U.S. Pacific Fleet (SURFPAC) at the base chapel on board Naval Amphibious Base Coronado, Sept. 13.
The new CPOs, five assigned to SURFPAC, five from supporting commands and one who is the spouse of a SURFPAC Sailor, received their CPO collar devices and combination covers following six weeks of intensive CPO 365 Phase II training.
During the ceremony SURFPAC Force Master Chief Brannon Knox reminded the group of Sailors and their families about the duties and responsibilities of a CPO in the challenging environment of today's Navy.
"Phase II strengthens us and a strong CPO mess benefits the Navy," said Knox. "Being a chief becomes a whole new way of life and I encourage you to make a positive difference in someone’s life."
Knox thanked the families of the new CPOs for their sacrifices during the past six weeks and for supporting their Sailor in this giant career step. He also talked about his experiences with CPOs when he joined the Navy and reported to his first ship.
“As the chief, remember that the Sailors you lead and the officers who you work for will always remember their first chief,” said Knox. “It’s a great day to recognize the accomplishments of these 11 outstanding Sailors.”
For the Sailors receiving their anchors, combination covers and being welcomed into the CPO mess was an emotional experience.
“Never give up, it took me five times to get here,” said Chief Information Systems Technician Eric L. Williams, whose mother was in attendance for the ceremony. “I was upset that I didn’t make it last year, but I didn’t give up and now I’m here.”
Williams said he learned a lot from the CPO mess during the past six weeks.
“Work as a team, trust the chiefs mess,” said Williams. “Always, always be prepared.” Chief Navy Career Counselor Ana Ortiz, whose husband also made chief this year and took part in the SURFPAC ceremony, said making chief is both a huge sense of pride and a humbling achievement.
“I’ve waited 15 years for this,” said Ortiz, who pinned her husband during the ceremony at the same time he pinned her. “I was leading Sailors before, but leading Sailors as a chief has always been a goal of mine.”
Chief Logistics Specialist Michael Salamanca, who also received his anchors during the ceremony, said he advises first class petty officers who want to become CPOs to remain dedicated to their junior Sailors and the command’s mission.
"Be proactive in the first class mess," said Salamanca. "Take the big collateral duties and you’ll stand out."