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Chief Petty Officer Angel Rivera hugs another chief after a pinning ceremony Wednesday at Naval Station Rota, Spain. The ceremony for 13 sailors tapped for the chief petty officer rank had been postponed as the result of "inappropriate actions" at an initiation function on base Sept. 9.
Chief Petty Officer Angel Rivera hugs another chief after a pinning ceremony Wednesday at Naval Station Rota, Spain. The ceremony for 13 sailors tapped for the chief petty officer rank had been postponed as the result of "inappropriate actions" at an initiation function on base Sept. 9. (Scott Schonauer / S&S)
Chief Petty Officer Angel Rivera hugs another chief after a pinning ceremony Wednesday at Naval Station Rota, Spain. The ceremony for 13 sailors tapped for the chief petty officer rank had been postponed as the result of "inappropriate actions" at an initiation function on base Sept. 9.
Chief Petty Officer Angel Rivera hugs another chief after a pinning ceremony Wednesday at Naval Station Rota, Spain. The ceremony for 13 sailors tapped for the chief petty officer rank had been postponed as the result of "inappropriate actions" at an initiation function on base Sept. 9. (Scott Schonauer / S&S)
David Furford is pinned during a ceremony Wednesday at Naval Station Rota, Spain. The ceremony for 13 sailors tapped for the chief petty officer rank had been postponed as the result of "inappropriate actions" at an initiation function on base Sept. 9.
David Furford is pinned during a ceremony Wednesday at Naval Station Rota, Spain. The ceremony for 13 sailors tapped for the chief petty officer rank had been postponed as the result of "inappropriate actions" at an initiation function on base Sept. 9. (Scott Schonauer / S&S)

NAVAL STATION ROTA, Spain — There were days when Chief Petty Officer Angel Rivera, 39, wasn’t sure he would reach his goal of becoming a Navy chief.

Although it took longer than usual, he reached the career benchmark on Wednesday. “It took 20 years, but I finally made it,” said Rivera, a master-at-arms chief with base security.

The Navy pinned 13 of its newest chiefs during a ceremony in the base theater. Getting promoted from first-class petty officer is considered more than a boost in pay rate. Enlisted sailors selected to chief are part of an exclusive fellowship that comes with much more responsibility.

Wednesday’s ceremony was emotional for many of the new chiefs. Some had family members or friends pin the chief anchor on their uniform.

“This is what everybody strives for when they come into the military enlisted,” Chief Petty Officer Ricky Neitzel said. “They dream of the day they put the khakis on, and this is my day.”

The new chiefs in Rota waited longer than most sailors for the big day. The ceremony was originally scheduled for Sept. 15, but an investigation into inappropriate conduct during a skit performed at a chief “transition” function postponed it.

A “phallic-shaped device” was displayed during one of the skits, prompting complaints from those in the audience. Capt. John Orem, commander of U.S. forces at Rota, took nonpunitive administrative action against those involved with the skit because he considered it inappropriate. The Sept. 9 event on base was attended by 40 to 50 chief petty officers from various base commands.

Chief Petty Officer Keith Rawls, who is assigned to the base hospital, said the attention put on the investigation and what happened during the skit is a reminder that being in the Navy carries a tremendous amount of responsibility.

“The attention that’s been placed upon this … I hope something good comes out of it,” he said.

Chief petty officers go through a “transition” period, once known as initiation, before they are pinned. It begins when chiefs are named at the end of July until the day of the ceremony.

The period aims to mold first-class petty officers into better leaders. Hours before the pinning ceremony, new and current chiefs in Rota participated in several events to help them be better supervisors and mentors.

“Whether they stay in the Navy or get out and go to corporate America or [Naval Reserve], they now have tools that they can use for the rest of their lives,” said Master Chief Petty Officer James Stone, a Navy leadership trainer.

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