By Mass Communication Specialist Chief Justin Stumberg
Twenty nine first class petty officers from Naples Area commands were pinned their gold-fouled anchors during the Chief’s Pinning Ceremony at the Naval Support Activity (NSA) Naples Chapel, Jan. 29, 2021.
The time-honored tradition took on a new form to ensure safety precautions were a priority while minimizing any COVID related risks to the force.
U.S. Sixth Fleet Command Master Chief Johannes Gonzalez served as the pinning ceremony’s guest speaker. Along with taking the opportunity to thank all those that helped make this year’s challenging initiation possible, he also addressed the newly accepted Chief Petty Officers directly.
“You are now the Chief,” said Gonzalez, the Sixth Fleet Command Master Chief since Aug. 2018. “The fountain of wisdom, the developers of the next generation that will relieve you.”
Gonzalez equated the work and development of those around them of the Chief Petty Officer to that of how a sculptor approaches their projects.
“To do this you must work like a sculptor does with patience, with love, with determination, with genuine care and understanding,” said Gonzalez. “That is reason enough for you to take your time sculpting each individual and instead of looking for flaws and concerning yourself with what some think is a wasted effort, you must see your every move as an investment.”
For the last six weeks, the newly pinned Chiefs participated in the Chief’s initiation process. But, unlike previous years that relied heavily on group activities such as intense fitness sessions, large organized community outreach projects, and area Mess trainings, this year’s Chief’s faced an initiation that emphasized virtual training and one-on-one mentorship from the Command’s most senior enlisted.
One of this year’s newly pinned Chiefs, Information System Technician Chief Caleb Hunsaker said that even though this year’s initiation was totally different he still found the one-on-one mentorship sessions incredibly valuable and eye opening.
“One of the things that we are taught going through the process is that we’re no longer an individual but part of something larger than ourselves,” said Hunsaker. “It’s all about taking care of Sailors and realizing that working together in the Mess can make the Navy better than we could ever do as individuals.”
Other’s echoed the same sentiments of the impact a Chief Petty Officer can make including Commander, U.S. Sixth Fleet Vice Adm. Gene Black.
“I’m really proud to see all their hard work culminate in the rank of Chief Petty Officer,” said Black. “Chiefs play an important role in the development of officers and the training and care for junior Sailors. I look forward to seeing the impact these new Chiefs will make on the Fleet.”
Black said that this year has been challenging as the country and military has been dealing with difficult situations such a once-in-a-century world-wide pandemic, slow economic growth, and national social upheaval.
“It’s been tough,” said Black. “But our Chiefs Mess did what they always do – stepped forward and served as visible and humble deck plate leaders that conquered yet another unprecedented challenge.”
U.S. Sixth Fleet, headquartered in Naples, Italy, conducts the full spectrum of joint and naval operations, often in concert with allies, and interagency partners, in order to advance U.S. national interests and security and stability in Europe and Africa.