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PACOM Recognizes Vital Leadership During Navy Chief Pinning Ceremony; Harris Made Honorary Chief Petty Officer

By U.S. Pacific Command Public Affairs | Sept. 19, 2017

CAMP H.M. SMITH, Hawaii – Five Navy Chief Petty Officer (CPO) selectees presented themselves in crisply-pressed khaki uniforms for a pinning ceremony at the Sunset Lanai lounge Sept. 15. The new Chiefs, assigned to U.S. Pacific Command (PACOM), Special Operations Command-Pacific, PACOM Joint Information Operations Center, and the PACOM Defense Intelligence Agency Detachment, are all serving in joint commands. However, they all completed the Navy CPO 365 program in order to gain the necessary skills to conduct their vital leadership duties. This year marks the 124th anniversary of the CPO rank.

Promotion to CPO requires passing an exam, superior evaluation scores, and board selection. The pinning ceremony then serves as the culmination of a rigorous six-week program that involves physical fitness, challenges, team-building exercises, leadership training and lessons on CPO history and traditions. Chief Culinary Specialist Laura Dedman, Chief Yeoman Holly Fey, Chief Yeoman Justin Holly, Chief Information Systems Technician Jovi Jacildo, and Chief Yeoman Jason Prince were among the 23 percent of eligible Sailors advanced this year.

“It’s almost an indescribable feeling because it’s a whole ball of emotions,” said Dedman, a Salt Lake City native who has been in the Navy for 11 years. “You’re overjoyed, relieved and proud but there’s also a weight of responsibility that comes over you for your junior Sailors and also all the Chiefs that have gone before me. We want to make sure to make them proud and live up to that legacy.” 

Pinning ceremony guest speakers Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy (MCPON retired) Joe R. Campa Jr. and PACOM Commander Adm. Harry B. Harris Jr. publicly shared words of wisdom to the new Chiefs, including the importance of dedication to service, upholding technical expertise, training junior officers, and strong deckplate leadership. 

Harris, the son of a Chief who served aboard the aircraft carrier USS Lexington during World War II, has a special relationship with the Chiefs Mess. Knowing the strength of their unique brand of leadership, Harris challenged all Chief Petty Officers to help lead not only the Navy, but also the Marine Corps, Army and Air Force.

“If you are in a Joint command like PACOM, help our Services train how we need to fight in the 21st century – Jointly. Mentoring the future joint leaders that will be ready to fight tonight and win,” said Harris. “For if we can achieve that, then I know the Navy and our entire Joint team will remain the greatest fighting force on the planet… because the Chiefs always get it done. My father convinced me of this when I was a boy, and my experience throughout my own career has confirmed it.”

After the five new Chiefs were officially welcomed into the Chiefs Mess, the PACOM Navy Element Senior Enlisted Advisor (SEA), Master Chief Culinary Specialist Arturo Luna, surprised the audience by announcing an honorary Chief Petty Officer. Luna stressed that as the gatekeepers of Navy tradition, becoming an honorary Chief is a rare distinction. To receive the prestigious honor, one must embody the leadership attributes of a Chief Petty Officer while demonstrating extraordinary dedication to the Navy’s core values of honor, courage, and commitment. 

The PACOM Chiefs Mess’ nomination of Harris was approved by the current MCPON Steven S. Giordano. 

Harris was pinned by Luna and Campa, who previously served as Harris’ SEA during a tour in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Commissioned in 1978 after graduating from the U.S. Naval Academy, Harris was stunned and humbled by the honor. Upon accepting his Chief anchors, he said simply “I guess I can finally say I’m successful.”

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