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Misawa Chief Petty Officer Pinning Ceremony 2021

Military members stand together for a photo

MISAWA, Japan (Nov. 19, 2021) – Chief Petty Officers pose for a group photo after the conclusion of Naval Air Facility Misawa’s Chief Petty Officer Pinning Ceremony on Nov. 19, 2021. Eighteen Sailors and Airmen were pinned to Chief Petty Officer during the ceremony. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Benjamin Ringers)

The U.S. Navy honor guard hold flags during the national anthems

The U.S. Navy Honor Guard presents flags while the anthem of both the United States and Japan are playing during Naval Air Facility Misawa’s Chief Petty Officer Pinning Ceremony on Nov. 19, 2021. Eighteen Sailors and Airmen were pinned to Chief Petty Officer during the ceremony. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Joao Marcus Costa)

A dependent pins an anchor to her senior master sergeant spouce.

MISAWA, Japan (Nov. 19, 2021) – Senior Master Sgt. Andrew Mulligan, assigned to 35th Fighter Wing, is pinned to Chief Petty Officer during Naval Air Facility Misawa’s Chief Petty Officer Pinning Ceremony on Nov. 19, 2021. Eighteen Sailors and Airmen were pinned to Chief Petty Officer during the ceremony. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Benjamin Ringers)

MISAWA AIR BASE, Japan --

A Chief Petty Officer pinning ceremony was held at Misawa Air Base, Japan, Nov. 19, 2021. Sailors in the U.S. Navy consider becoming a chief is a huge honor, but what’s rare is for Airmen to also be pinned as chief.   

Unlike other branches in the military, in order to become a chief petty officer and join the Navy’s senior enlisted leadership, the members take a six-week training course that focuses on shifting their priorities to become a servant leader for their Sailors.

In order to enhance the training course Naval Air Facility (NAF) Misawa shares this experience with other branches on base. Four SNCO Airmen, who’ve been nominated by their leadership for excelling at their job, were added to the course.

“I think that the chief’s initiation, while it is an intensive leadership training curriculum, is more about the ability to discover yourself and to acknowledge shortfalls that you have in your leadership style,” said Command Master Chief Thomas Howell, Naval Air Facility Misawa command master chief. “It also allows you to, not only be aware of, but willing to change those abilities so that you can be a better leader for your people.”

The training involved much self-reflection, learning and leading. The service members physically trained, took lessons in leadership and volunteered in the local community.

The course concluded with a pinning ceremony where members had their fouled anchors pinned on by friends and family. Since August 1860, the fouled anchor has been considered a significant symbol in the U.S. Navy. The meaning behind the symbol derived from a ship trying to hoist an anchor and realizing it was fouled; the enlisted chief then climbed over the ship and fixed it.

“Chief petty officer initiation is a once in a lifetime opportunity that will test the mental and physical boundaries of even the strongest individuals so if ever afforded the chance to be a part of it… simply say ‘yes’,” said Senior Master Sergeant Andrew Mulligan, chief petty officer class 128 graduate. “You will grow as an individual, but if you’re accepted into the Mess, then you will be part of a family that you won’t find anywhere else.”