Newly pinned Chief Petty Officers from Navy Region Hawaii stand in formation following a chief pinning ceremony held at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam. (U.S. Navy/MC2 Tiarra Fulgham)

PEARL HARBOR - Following six weeks of training, 32 Sailors, assigned to various commands on Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam (JBPHH), received their gold anchors, chief combination covers and joined the Chiefs Mess during a chief petty officer (CPO) pinning ceremony at the Hickam Officer's Club Lanai, Sept. 16.

The chief pinning ceremony is part of a long-standing tradition that honors and recognizes the years of hard work, service and leadership of Sailors selected to the rank of chief.

"The rank of the chief petty officer has existed in our Navy for 121 years now, and during that time some very special men and women have earned the right to be recognized as 'The Chief'," said Master of Ceremonies Command Master Chief Teresa Carroll-Gillis, assigned to Commander, U.S. Pacific Fleet. "Today, these 32 men and women will join those ranks as Class 121, representing hundreds of years of combined experience. They have earned their anchors ... and will undoubtedly add value to the chiefs mess of the world's finest Navy."

At the ceremony, Rear Adm. Robert Girrier, deputy commander of U.S. Pacific Fleet, served as a guest speaker. Lt. Phillip Hogan, chaplain, provided an invocation and the U.S. Pacific Band provided musical accompaniment.

"First and foremost, you will find your new role in the Navy to be challenging, but right along with that, absolutely rewarding," said Girrier in his address to the selectees. "As a Chief, you will have a tremendous influence on those who are junior to you, who look up to you. But also to the officers, to the wardroom, to the commanding officers who rely on your expertise - it works both ways. It is a key role you will be assuming here shortly."

Girrier described the essence and the many roles of chief petty officers in today's Navy, stressing the importance of team-building qualities that chiefs possess to move and motivate their Sailors forward.

"Chiefs are an essential and integral part of our great Navy," said Girrier. "Chiefs are leaders. They are subject matter experts. And they are teachers, teambuilders and communicators."

Chiefs are expected to continue guiding their junior Sailors and now, uphold the legacy of the chief petty officer.

"It is a very great experience," said newly pinned Chief Yeoman Talena Cooper, assigned to Defense Intelligence Agency, Det. U.S. Pacific Command. "It is a transition to a broad and unique way of life in the Navy as I am a chief now. This experience has taught me a lot: teamwork, the meaning of being a chief and a leader, and what it takes to lead our junior officers and Sailors."

Cooper's sponsor, Chief Information Systems Technician Amberly Clemente, assigned to Defense Intelligence Agency, Det. U.S. Pacific Command, stood by her Sailor and was proud to be the one who placed the combination cover on Cooper's head.

"This is an experience that I will never forget, as this is my first time that I have been a sponsor," said Clemente. "It is definitely challenging and exciting. It is worth every minute and I wouldn't have it any other way. [Cooper] soon will be replacing me, so I wanted to make sure that she is up to par, that she is a deckplate leader and prepared to be a chief."

A reception was held at the conclusion of the ceremony where the new chiefs were able to celebrate with their family, friends, mentors and sponsors.

The rank of Chief Petty Officer was established in 1893 for the U.S. Navy to recognize those who serve as both a technical expert in their field and as extraordinary leaders.