By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Ricardo R. Guzman
YOKOSUKA, Japan (Dec. 7, 2012) — 537 Sailors were frocked to their next higher pay grade as petty officers during a ceremony on board the U.S. Navy’s forward-deployed aircraft carrier USS George Washington (CVN 73) Dec. 7.
The ships newest first, second, and third class petty officers stood in 10 ranks of 50 Sailors each with the remaining Sailors making an 11th rank as Capt. G.J. Fenton, George Washington’s commanding officer, personally congratulated and handed each newly-promoted petty officer their frocking letter.
Frocking is awarded to Sailors based on semi-annual advancement exam results, and prior Navy performance and achievements.
“At some point I wanted to meet half of the personnel on the ship. Today I think I met 50 percent,” said Fenton. “It’s quite a special day today particularly for the Sailors that got frocked. Amongst all of the carriers, George Washington frocked the highest percentage of petty officers to third and second class and was number three for advancing first class.”
Soon after the ceremony was over, the newly frocked Sailors broke ranks and were congratulated by their peers and families who came from different parts of the U.S.
“It felt really good, I studied really hard and it’s very rewarding and gratifying being able to wear this chevron,” said Aviation Machinist’s Mate 3rd Class Stephen Poland, from Keyser, W. Va. “My biggest motivation was my wife and kids. As an airman, I couldn’t be with them, but now that I have my rank, they can finally be here with me.”
“We’re really proud of him and we knew he’s been working hard” said Amanda K. Poland, from Charlottesville, Va., Poland’s wife. “We’ve been supporting him since we’ve been in the States and being here with him today feels really nice.”
The newly-frocked petty officers waited more than two months to find out if they would be advanced to the next higher pay grade and allowed them use their new chevrons. All newly-promoted third class petty officers attended a mandatory petty officer indoctrination course where they learned the responsibilities of leadership. 2nd and 1st class petty officers completed leadership courses that helped them learn and prepare to take on their new responsibilities.
“I like that in the class, petty officers gave advice and their own experiences about what has helped them become a better leader,” said Aerographer’s Mate 3rd Class Karen Richards, from Maplewood, Va. “I want to be someone that people can approach and ask for help. I think finally being a petty officer can help me be a role model for junior Sailors.”
George Washington returned to it forward-operating location of Command Fleet Activities Yokosuka from its 2012 patrol on Nov. 20. The Nimitz-class aircraft carrier and its embarked air wing, Carrier Air Wing 5, provided a combat-ready force that protected the collective maritime interest of the U.S. and its allies in the Asia-Pacific region.