MANAMA, Bahrain - A room full of Sailors stood at attention. Their uniforms khaki, their collars laid bare. They stood ready for hard-earned gold-fouled anchors to be pinned on.
Sixty-one Sailors from ten commands stood side by side in a crowded gym on Naval Support Activity (NSA) Bahrain awaiting their anchors during the Chief’s Pinning Ceremony Sept. 14.
The ceremony was the culmination of a six-week training period known as Chief Petty Officer (CPO) 365 Phase II, which began when the CPO advancement results were officially released. Phase II was preceded by Phase I, where prospective CPOs are mentored for a period of approximately ten months. During Phase II, senior enlisted leaders introduced the chief selectees to myriad challenges designed to strengthen their leadership skills and to provide a better understanding of what it means to be a U.S. Navy chief. Phase II also included training on the history and traditions of the Chiefs Mess, physical challenges, mentorship and many additional responsibilities.
“You’re about to enter an entirely new level of leadership and it will be the most rewarding and challenging phase of your career,” said Vice Adm. Kevin Donegan, commander, U.S. 5th Fleet. “Make the most of this opportunity and make those mentors that shaped you and the chiefs that came before you proud. I wish each and every one of you the best in your new role as chief petty officer. Wear the hat with pride.”
While NSA Bahrain and its tenant commands tend to have a high percentage of unaccompanied Sailors, several freshly-minted chiefs had the opportunity to have family show up for their big day.
“There is no distance far enough to keep me from seeing my wife get her anchors pinned on,” said Osarieme Omoregie, the husband of Chief Legalman Andrea Omoregie, who flew in from Norfolk, Virginia, for the event.
For some chiefs, this opportunity drastically changed their lives. For one chief in particular, this pinning meant the continuance of a career.
“I was a month away from retirement,” said Chief Hospital Corpsman Osvaldo Diaz, assigned to U.S Naval Forces Central Command (NAVCENT). “I owe this to my family and my Sailors. They’re the ones that sacrificed the most.”
The warm climate and location of Bahrain present a variety of physical and geographical challenges for all Sailors, but teamwork and commitment to the process ensured the new chiefs stayed the course.
“It takes a lot of team work for 61 chiefs to work together and a lot of fortitude to stick to it,” said U.S. 5th Fleet Master Chief James Honea. “It has been especially harsh due to this desert environment, and a lot are away from their families and their support network, but these chiefs were able to endure.”