ATLANTIC OCEAN — Billy Hawkins from Elkin was recently promoted to chief petty officer.
Hawkins, a 2006 East Wilkes High School graduate, has served in the Navy for 10 years and is serving aboard guided missile cruiser USS Philippine Sea (CG 58).
“It is said that the highlight of any enlisted sailor’s career is when they are promoted to chief petty officer,” said Hawkins. “This promotion comes with great responsibilities; a responsibility to ensure the future of our Navy, a responsibility to ensure the future of our country and a responsibility to mold young men and women into the great leaders of tomorrow. This role is one that I am ready and willing to accept.”
More than 3,000 sailors at various commands around the world were promoted during the 2016 Chief Pinning Ceremony. This ceremony is a long time Navy tradition dating back to 1893 when the chief petty officer pay grade was first created.
“Chief Hawkins is relatively new onboard, but based on performance it was no surprise to me when his name was on the chief’s list,” said Capt. John Schmidt, commanding officer of USS Philippine Sea. “He is an exceptional sailor and leader.”
To be selected for this promotion, sailors must be a petty officer 1st class, and go through two qualifying factors; a job based exam, and a review board. A petty officer 1st class can only go through the review board after they score high enough on the exam. Each rating has different requirements for their chief petty officers.
Before the new chief can wear their new rank and anchors on their uniform collars, they must complete a six week long training filled with testing, mentoring, and challenges to make them the best chiefs they can be.
During the ceremony, the honored sailors invite friends and family members to pin on the two gold anchors to the newly appointed chief’s uniform, while the sailor’s sponsor places the combination cover on their heads.
“My family has been incredibly supportive of my career over the last 10 years, especially my grandfather Ronnie Darnell,” said Hawkins. “He was the best role model a young man could ask for and my inspiration for serving my country. My wife, Emily, has been my rock through the good times and the bad. She made me believe in myself and never questioned when duty called. There are many more that I want to list but I would need a few more pages to do so. Without them all understanding the difficulties of the life that I chose my career would not have reached the level that it has. Having a great support system is what makes life in the military possible.”