PACIFIC OCEAN -- There are more than 300 Sailors aboard the guided-missile destroyer USS Chung-Hoon (DDG 93). All play an important role in accomplishing the ship’s mission, and many of those Sailors perform at a level higher than their current pay-grade.
So, when Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class Andrew Watson heard Cmdr. Tom Ogden, Chung-Hoon’s commanding officer, call him forward as HM2 Andrew Watson during an awards ceremony on the ship’s mess deck August 2, it came as shock to the Los Angeles native, who only saw himself as someone who does his job.
“I love my job, and I never really expected to be rewarded for doing what’s asked of me,” said Watson. “That night, I remember him [commanding officer] making a speech about the meritorious advancement program, then he looked directly at me and said, ‘HM2 Watson.’”
At that very moment, things changed for Watson. The first change was he was now out of uniform. He recalls the conversation that his leading chief petty officer, Chief Hospital Corpsman Banny Chavez, had with him, as Chavez pinned the new shiny second-class insignia on his collar.
“He congratulated me, and told me he was proud of me,” said Watson. “Then, he told me to always remember those who helped me along the way. He encouraged me to always keep pushing higher.”
As Watson stood there on the mess deck as a proud new second class petty officer, the crew of ‘Hawaii’s Destroyer’ gathered around him, shook his hand and congratulated him on his new promotion; however, Watson had only one thing on his mind.
“I just wanted to go pray and thank God for blessing me,” said Watson. “After everyone congratulated me, I went up to the Crew Training Room and prayed and shed a few tears. I couldn’t believe I had just been chosen for meritorious advancement.”
The meritorious advancement program (MAP) is part of the Navy’s on-going talent management initiative that empowers the command triad to advance their top performing junior enlisted Sailors to the next higher pay grade when they are ready for the next level of responsibility.
“The meritorious advancement program is one of those great privileges I have as a commanding officer,” said Ogden. “It’s Sailors like Petty Officer Watson who make me wish I had more opportunities to advance more of our great Sailors who are performing at such a high level.”
That performance is something Watson says he has always taken pride in. Having held fast to the valuable lessons taught to him by his dad, who was also a Sailor, Watson refers to his passion for having a good work ethic simply as doing what he is told to do.
“I’m just doing what is expected of every Sailor,” said Watson. “My dad taught me some very important things that I apply to what I do every day. He always spoke about attention to detail. He’d say, nothing in life can counter that; it applies to everything in life. My dad would also say that it’s never a matter of not having enough time, it’s about what will you make time for.”
As a hospital corpsman, Watson’s job centers on taking care of people, and the newly frocked HM2 has a unique perspective of his fellow Sailors aboard DDG 93.
“To me they’re not just my co-workers and shipmates,” said Watson, “I have 300 people on the ship who are my patients. I want them to be confident and comfortable in knowing that if they come in for something, I will do my best to take care of them and make sure they get better.”
Though Watson’s promotion may have come as shock to him, Fire Controlman 1st Class Cameron Robinson said he had feeling all along Watson would get the promotion.
“It was simple for me to see,” said Robinson. “When you have someone like HM2 who puts his heart into everything he does, it was easy to know that he would be the one promoted. It’s good to know his hard work is paying off for him. I think everybody knew it was going to be Watson.”
The Sailors of DDG 93 are currently underway for Composite Training Unit Exercise and Joint Task Force Exercise (COMPTUEX/JTFEX), the final step in certifying to deploy, and Watson says now is not the time for him to get complacent, but to continue striving for the top.
“I’m focused on HM1 now,” said Watson. “I’ve already begun looking at the [bibliographies] for the HM1 exam – looking at what the Navy is looking for from a first-class petty officer in the hospital corpsman rate. I’m also in college right now because I want to become a physician assistant through the Navy’s [enlisted commissioning] program.”
Watson added that since he is now an HM2, the workload only gets heavier. He also stated that he will be forever grateful that the chain of command decided to make him an HM2, and that they may never know how much it truly means to him.
For more information on the day-to-day events aboard USS Chung-Hoon (DDG 93), visit the DDG 93 page on Facebook.