ARABIAN GULF (NNS) -- Five Sailors assigned to the Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Lake Erie (CG 70) advanced to the rank of chief petty officer (CPO) during a promotion ceremony on the ship's flight deck, September 16.
Lake Erie's newest chief petty officers are: Chief Electronics Technician Randy Belknap, from Tulsa, Oklahoma, Chief Quartermaster Angela Everett, from Brooklyn, New York, Chief Logistics Specialist Andres Matos, from Miami, Chief Operations Specialist Benjamin Oberkrom, from Indianapolis, Indiana, and Chief Fire Controlman Ryan Williams, from Lawrence, Kansas.
"Today, USS Lake Erie welcomed five outstanding chief petty officers into the mess," said Command Master Chief Chris King, from Nashville, Tennessee. "We have enjoyed watching them develop over these last few weeks as they made the transition into their new roles. We know they will work hard to fulfill their new responsibilities and they each have very bright futures ahead of them. We are proud to call them our brothers and sister."
The ceremony came after a six-week training period known as CPO 365 Phase II, which started the day the CPO advancement results were released. During the training, the chief petty officer selectees were instructed by senior enlisted leaders and encountered lessons and challenges both mental and physical designed to enhance their leadership abilities. They also learned what it means to be a chief including the history and traditions of the Chiefs Mess.
"This experience was extremely humbling," said Chief Logistics Specialist Andres Matos. "This is one of the happiest days of my life. I feel ready to move forward and lead because I know I am strengthened by the Chiefs Mess."
These chiefs will now move forward and use the tools they learned during training to instill the same qualities of leadership and tenacity in the junior Sailors whom they lead.
"I'm ready to be reunited with my Sailors," said Chief Quartermaster Angela Everett. "I feel like this was a re-awakening. I feel a 360 degree change and I know that I have been armed with knowledge."
Capt. Darren McPherson, Lake Erie's commanding officer, spoke about the importance of the chief petty officer during the ceremony.
"The U.S. Navy chief plays such a large role in our service, perhaps more than any other service's senior enlisted," said McPherson. "They are the deckplate leaders and the technical experts. The chief is the one a captain leans on when they need experience and an unfiltered perspective free of hesitancy or sugarcoating. The chief plays an instrumental role in the development of both young enlisted personnel and officers, probably much more than they will ever realize. I'm excited to welcome these five Sailors in the Chiefs Mess on Lake Erie; their years of hard work and dedication have paid off."
Lake Erie is deployed in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations in support of maritime security operations designed to reassure allies and partners, and preserve the freedom of navigation and the free flow of commerce in the region.
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