PHILIPPINE SEA – Chief petty officers aboard the forward-deployed amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD) welcomed 21 new members to their mess during a pinning ceremony Sept. 13.
The pinning ceremony held in the hangar bay marks the end of “CPO 365” Phase Two, a six-week training period following the release of the advancement results.
Phase Two is a continuation of the year round “CPO 365” program, and its focus is making newly selected chiefs ready to enter the mess, said Command Master Chief Scott McCreery, USS Bonhomme Richard’s command master chief.
“The focus of Phase two is training,” said McCreery. “The purpose of ‘CPO 365’ is to conduct training year-round to allow first class petty officers to become better leaders, and upon selection they enter Phase Two, which is a culmination of what they have learned over the past year.”
The chief's pinning ceremony is a special Navy tradition, which dates back to 1893, when the chief petty officer pay grade was created. The ceremony signifies a new position of leadership and responsibilities for the Navy.
“It’s an amazing feeling and a great honor,” said Chief Interior Communication Electrician Norman Corliss. “Phase Two was difficult, but we learned a lot. It feels great to be part of such a fantastic origination.”
The pinning ceremony began with the soon-to-be chiefs marching to the stage, in the hangar bay, singing "Anchors Aweigh," a reflection of the Navy pride and unity that comes with the chief petty officer rank.
When it came time to pin anchors onto the collars of their new khaki uniforms, the chiefs had fellow chief mentors pin on the new collar devices. After being pinned, each chief received a khaki CPO combination cover, marking the finalization of a career milestone.
“Getting pinned was one of the most amazing things I’ve ever done in my career,” said Chief Aviation Ordnanceman Timothy Hixson. “My brothers and sisters in the chief’s mess provided me with a lot of valuable insight and guidance every step of the way during Phase Two.”
Bonhomme Richard is the flagship of the Bonhomme Richard Amphibious Ready Group and, with the embarked 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, is currently conducting joint-force operations in the 7th Fleet Area of Responsibility.