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NEWS | March 10, 2022

US Army’s First African American Petroleum Systems Technician Promoted to Chief Warrant Officer Five

Sgt. 1st Class Monik Phan

FT SHAFTER, Hawaii -- Chief Warrant Officer 4 Robert J. Grice, a petroleum systems technician (923A) assigned to U.S. Army Pacific and a native of Lumberton, North Carolina, celebrated his promotion to Chief Warrant Officer 5 Feb. 25 at Fort Shafter, Hawaii.

Grice is the first African American to receive the rank of Chief Warrant Officer 5 as a petroleum systems technician.

“I can’t think of a more rewarding and a more deserving person,” said Chief Warrant Officer 5 Christie L Stewart, Warrant Officer Training Division Chief from Fort Gordon, Georgia.

Grice is the senior petroleum advisor for USARPAC G4 Sustainment Division Petroleum and Water Branch.

Because his late father Robert Gene Kelly influenced the honor to serve the nation throughout his childhood, Grice’s only desire after high school was to serve.

“I never thought college or the regular workforce to be an option. I joined straight out of high school and never looked back,” Grice said.

Following graduating from high school, he entered the U.S. Army in November 1992 as a petroleum supply specialist (77F). In March 2006, he transitioned to the warrant officer ranks.

“I was motivated to become a warrant mainly because I admired what they stood for,” said Grice. “The technical expert within their trade, the quiet professional and the honest broker to their assigned command. I wanted to continue to serve in my assigned field but bring more value to our Quartermaster Petroleum Community.”

In 2005, he decided to switch over at the rank of Sergeant First Class while assigned as Team Chief at Petroleum & Water Department, Quartermaster Center & School Fort Lee, Virginia. That same year, the military occupational specialty of Petroleum Systems Technician (923A) became established.

Throughout his military service of 29 years, he has served in various petroleum supply and combat service support units, including various tactical and operational level assignments. He deployed to Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, Afghanistan, in support of Operation Enduring Freedom VIII, and Taszar, Hungary, in support of Bosnia Herzegovina.

Grice was also the first Petroleum Systems Technician to be nominated and serve as the Quartermaster Warrant Officer Branch Career Manager, managing five different QM MOSs. Those MOSs are Property Accounting Technician (920A), Supply Systems Technician (920B), Airdrop Systems Technician (921A), Food Service Technician (922A) and Petroleum Systems Technician (923A).

“I feel humbled, honored and appreciate Senior leaders such as the late

Gen. Colon Powell and others who help pave the way, set high standards and gave us the opportunity to serve as well,” said Grice.

“I’m honored to have met him and for him to call on me to do something like this,” said Stewart.

Grice aims to continue to provide mentorship and guidance to all junior warrant officers, Non-commissioned officers and officers striving to improve lessening the bulk petroleum and water storage distribution gap within the U.S. Indo-Pacific region.

“If a country boy from Lumberton can climb the enlisted ranks from private to the prestigious grade of W5 then anyone can do it,” Grice said. “All I have ever known was hard work and dedication to duty. I’ve carried those beliefs and values to the Army. I continue to display these very same Army values to the leadership, my fellow warrants, Noncommissioned officers, officers, family and friends.”

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