Gunnery Sgt. Apolosi Tuivai, from the Kingdom of Tonga, salutes sideboys in the hangar bay of the amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6) during a chief pinning ceremony. Bonhomme Richard, flagship of the Bonhomme Richard Expeditionary Strike Group, is operating in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region to enhance partnerships and be a ready-response force for any type of contingency. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Cosmo Walrath/Released)
The Weight of the Golden Anchor – Bonhomme Richard Pins 22 New Chiefs

PHILIPPINE SEA (NNS) -- Brand new khaki uniforms, sharply pressed; the ironed cloth creases compare to a knife's edge; yet their collars are bare.

Twenty-one Sailors and one Marine stand in formation with the anticipation of carrying the weight of the esteemed fouled, golden anchors during a chief pinning ceremony aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6), Sept. 16.

The chief petty officer selectees faced many tests and trials over the past six weeks intending to prepare them for their new leadership position as a Navy chief.

"When considering the Chiefs Mess has [more than] 200 years of heritage, of which I will soon become a part of, it gets overwhelming at times. I only wish my father was here to see it," said Logistics Specialist 1st Class Kevin Goleman, a chief petty officer selectee from Tylertown, Mississippi. "I had a long line of great chiefs to guide me, support me, and give me a kick in the backside when needed, and the Sailors I led made a big contribution to my success."

The selectees stand at attention, side-by-side, waiting for their name to be called and walk on stage for the ceremonial pinning where they will be joined by those requested - mentors, fellow chiefs, senior and master chiefs - to pin the small anchors onto their uniform collars and place mint combination covers on their heads.

"Selection as a chief petty officer means to me a great achievement at this point of my life," shared Chief Personnel Specialist Moussahoudou Odjabiti, from New York. "It is a result of many years of sacrifices and loyalty to the Navy and the nation. I'm grateful to my family for all they have been doing for me, and to my shipmates, and past and current commands for all their support, because without them, I would not have been able to achieve my goal of being selected as a Chief."

For many, it is visibly hard to contain their emotions, as they embrace their new rank. Their faces are lit with smiles, as they, the newly frocked chiefs are cheered on and congratulated by the crew. The new leaders of Bonhomme Richard stand ready to take charge.

"Being selected as a chief petty officer is a dream come true. I watched my Chiefs Mess when I was a third class petty officer and they truly embodied the spirit of 'Ask the chief.' I knew then and there that I wanted to be a chief," said Chief Boatswain's Mate Katrina Williams, from Carthage, North Carolina. "I would not have made it this far or this long in the Navy without the support of my family and friends. Knowing that I would be gone for months at a time and be stationed states or countries away from them was very hard. Also, every Sailor I have worked with, whether junior or senior, has guided me towards this path and I would not be here without them."

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For more news from USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6), visit http://www.navy.mil/local/lhd6/.

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