SAN DIEGO -- Sixteen Sailors from amphibious assault ship USS Boxer (LHD 4) earned the title of "chief" during a chief petty officer (CPO) pinning ceremony on the flight deck, Sept. 16.
Aviation Electronics Technician Christopher Barnes, Hospital Corpsman Donald Browning, Aviation Electrician’s Mate Clifford Clemente, Aviation Ordnanceman Alexander Conora, Electronics Technician Josue Delgado, Aviation Electronics Technician Aaron Gabel, Boatswain’s Mate Eric Johnson, Machinist’s Mate Victor Manzogomez, Aviation Boatswain’s Mate (Handling) Onexi Medinaairzarry, Quartermaster Brandon Pockell, Logistics Specialist Bernam Tapang, Legalman Glencora Thompson, Machinery Repairman Matthew Travis, Mass Communication Specialist Jessica Vargas, and Logistics Specialist Grace Wu became Boxer’s newest chief petty officers.
The ceremony was the culmination of a six-week training period known as CPO 365 Phase Two, which began when the CPO advancement results were officially released. During phase two, senior enlisted leaders introduced the chief selects to myriad challenges designed to strengthen their leadership skills and to provide a better understanding of what it means to be a Navy chief. Phase two also included training on the history and traditions of the CPO Mess, physical challenges, mentorship and many additional responsibilities.
During the ceremony, retired Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy (MCPON) Rick D. West, the twelfth MCPON, said Boxer’s newest chiefs should be proud of the rich heritage they have become a part of, and detailed the new responsibility that comes with leading Sailors from a greater level of trust.
“Put the ‘less’ in ‘selfless’. We throw that word around a lot and I think it’s lost its meaning a bit. Work on putting other things first; other people, other opportunities, other priorities,” said West. “Being a chief doesn’t mean you’re above others, it means you’re supportive of others, it means you get credit for less
and your Sailors get more.”
West also expressed the important contributions Navy families make in the achievement of the chief
“The families, you probably have one of the most significant roles of anything we do in the military. You
allow our servicemembers to go over the horizon and do what they do,” said West. “What a special treat
to see them pin their anchors on.”
Chief Boatswain’s Mate Eric M. Johnson, one of Boxer’s newest chief petty officers, who has served on
active duty for 18-years, described his sentiment after finally achieving this career milestone.
“I want to thank the Sailors who worked for me that helped get me here when I am, when I was a first
class, [petty officer] as well as my family,” said Johnson. “It touched my heart when I received my chief’s
anchors, it was really overwhelming.”
After being pinned with their anchors, each chief received a combination cover signifying a new position
of leadership and responsibility. Johnson reflected on his career and offered perspective to future chiefs.
“Anything is possible. I accomplished my goal by becoming a chief petty officer after 18-years,” said
Johnson. “My advice for Sailors coming up through the ranks is there’s no shortcut to success. You have to
work hard to become a chief.”
Boxer returned to its homeport of San Diego Monday, following a seven-month deployment to the 3rd,
5th, and 7th Fleet Areas of Operation.