Blue Ridge Goat Locker Welcomes New Chiefs
By Story by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Michael Hendricks
YOKOSUKA, Japan - Seventeen Sailors aboard U.S. 7th Fleet flagship USS Blue Ridge (LCC 19) put on their combination covers and anchor collar devices for the first time during a pinning ceremony held aboard Commander, Fleet Activities Yokosuka Sept. 14.

Each chief selectee went through the six-week indoctrination process that is implemented by the chief's mess to test and prepare them for life as a chief petty officer in the United States Navy.

The newest members of Blue Ridge's chief petty officer's mess are Chief Engineman Vincent Aldan, Chief Information Systems Technician Oscar Bernuy, Chief Cryptologic Technician (Collection) Shakine Charles, Chief Master-at-Arms Devin Fields, Chief Mass Communication Specialist Jerry Foltz, Chief Culinary Specialist Ruben Giron, Chief Yeoman Anthony Harris, Chief Cryptologic Technician (Collection) Matthew Mason, Chief Machinist's Mate Jason McDaniel, Chief Cryptologic Technician (Collection) Patrick Moore, Chief Cryptoligic Technician (Technical) Gerald Oubre, Chief Information Systems Technician Michele Pittard, Chief Electronics Technician Dietrich Rey, Chief Information Systems Technician Martin Rudolph, Chief Quartermaster Martez Smith, Chief Yeoman Mario Tapawan, and Chief Culinary Specialist Van Vergara.

After indoctrination, the selectees attended the chief's pinning which has been a tradition in the Navy since 1893, when the chief petty officer pay grade was created. The ceremony signifies a new position of leadership and responsibility in the Navy.

"It was not easy," said Rudolph. "There is a process you have to learn, there are a lot of scenarios but it forces everyone to really learn how to work as a team and work within your network."

During the indoctrination process the selectees are challenged with many different scenarios and situations designed to teach them how to respond and handle a wide variety of problems and issues commonly dealt with by chiefs.

"I have learned a lot," said Charles. "There is still a lot to learn, there always will be, but I feel I am ready to take on the rank of chief and give back to my Sailors, because it was them who helped me the most in achieving my rank."

"Euphoria, that's what I feel right now," said Rudolph. "I am at the pinnacle of my career right now, and all the hard work it took, it still hasn't hit me yet; I am just so happy."

After the ceremony the new chiefs were able to take pictures with their families, sponsors and fellow chiefs to remember the day.

"I had family fly in all the way from Trinidad," said Charles. "Sharing this moment with them is the best feeling ever."

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