(Click on thumbnail image to view larger version of photo)Matthew Schwarz / USN Newly-pinned Chief Petty Officer Sandra Pack salutes as she passes through the sideboys in Naval Air Facility Atsugi's Cinema 77.Joshua Wayne LeGrand / USN Chief Petty Officer Nida Lacurom Anderson salutes during the USS Kitty Hawk's CPO pinning ceremony at Benny Decker Theater on Yokosuka Naval Base.Stephen W. Rowe / USN CPOs stand at attention after receiving their anchor collar insignias during the USS Kitty Hawk's chief petty officer pinning ceremony at Yokosuka.Jerret Gardner / USN At Atsugi, Kenneth Patterson receives his new hat from Chief Petty Officer Eric McKinnon and collar anchor insignias from his wife as his transformation from petty officer first class to chief is complete.Jennifer H. Svan / S&S Chief Petty Officer Ariel Palania stands still while his wife Zenaida, right, and twin boys, A.J. and R.J., pin the golden anchor insignia on his collar. Twenty-three sailors were frocked at Misawa.Jennifer H. Svan /S&S Arlen Farin pins the golden anchor collar insignia on her husband, Chief Petty Officer Dennis Farin. Watching are their children, 5-year-old Arden and 4-year-old Deryk.Jennifer H. Svan / S&S At Misawa, six-year-old Ashley Johnson pins the golden anchor collar insignia on her father, Chief Petty Officer Stephen Johnson.Jennifer H. Svan / S&S Jessica Mueller watches as her mother, Yoko, pins the golden anchor on her father, Chief Petty Officer Brian Mueller, at Misawa.Jennifer H. Svan / S&S Rear Adm. Arthur J. Johnson, commander of Patrol and Reconnaissance 7th/5th Fleets, places the chief's hat on Chief Petty Officer Kevin Hamilton during a chief petty officer pinning ceremony at Misawa.Stephen W. Rowe / USN Chief Petty Officer Kenneth Frey receives his anchor collar insignias from his sponsors during USS Kitty Hawk's CPO pinning ceremony at Yokosuka.Stephen W. Rowe / USN Chief Petty Officer Robert Keller leans down to receive his anchor collar insignia from his wife and daughter at Yokosuka.Stephen W. Rowe / USN Chief Petty Officer Randal Sauerbrei receives his anchor collar insignia from his wife and daughter while Rear Adm. Doug McClain, commander of Carrier Strike Group 5, assists during the ceremony at Yokosuka.Stephen W. Rowe / USN Chief Information Systems Technician Rita Sauls shows off her new anchors after being pinned by her sponsor and her husband at Yokosuka.Thomas Holt / USN New CPOs from the USS Kitty Hawk, during the pinning ceremony at the Benny Decker Theater on Yokosuka Naval Base.Matthew Schwarz / USN Newly-pinned chief petty officers sing "Anchors Aweigh" as they receive a standing ovation in Naval Air Facility Atsugi's Cinema 77.

NAVAL AIR FACILITY MISAWA, Japan — As family members and fellow sailors pinned the golden anchor on their collars Friday afternoon, Misawa’s newest Navy leaders stood straight and tall, beaming with pride and, at times, holding back a tear or two.

The 23 sailors were now chief petty officers, joining more than 5,000 sailors worldwide who this week made the leap from E-6 to E-7, from dungarees to khakis, from junior sailor to “chief.”

“It’s amazing how different I feel,” said Chief Petty Officer Everett Browning Sr., a cryptologist with Naval Security Group Activity. “It feels different, but it feels right.”

The freshly-frocked sailors came from all Navy commands at Misawa, and there were five from Patrol Squadron 40 (VP-40), which is deployed to Misawa for six months from Whidbey Island, Wash.

Friday’s pinning ceremony in the Mutsu Officers Club ballroom marked the end of the six-week transition period during which the sailors underwent intensive training to build camaraderie and learn about their new job and mentoring responsibilities.

NAF Misawa Command Master Chief Michael McCarthy said the group was up to the challenge.

“The transition season is getting better and better and that’s because of the effort the chiefs’ mess has put into it,” he said. “Before, when I made it, I had to learn it all on my own. Now they have the solid foundation of knowledge to walk out that door as a chief petty officer.”

Chief Petty Officer Thomas C. Talbot, an NSGA cryptologist, said that during the training he learned about unity, organization, job tasking, communication and “most importantly, just believing in this organization (of chief petty officers). It’s unique. This is the happiest day of my life.”

Many of the new chiefs said Friday their most important job now was to lead junior sailors and help them to one day join the E-7 ranks.

“This is only the beginning for me,” Browning said. “My main goal is to help my fellow sailors who are not here to get here.”

Now 30, Browning said he planned to serve only four years when he signed up for the Navy.

“My family started growing; the opportunities were there,” he said. “I just fell in love with it.”

Chief Petty Officer Kevin Hamilton, a rescue swimmer who jumps out of helicopters with Command Task Force 72, credits now-retired Master Chief Phil Maffery for setting him up for success early on. Maffery was Hamilton’s shop chief when he was a first-term sailor with Helicopter Antisubmarine Squadron 9 in Jacksonville, Fla.

“He sat me down and made me write out short-term goals and long-term goals,” he said. “He said, you’re either going to do this or you’re going to be gone.”

For Chief Petty Officer Chris Emmett, a maintenance controller with VP-40, Friday’s pinning ceremony was made sweeter by the presence of his wife, Mary, who flew in Thursday night from Washington state for a surprise visit.

“I feel elated, just on top of the world,” Emmett said. Wearing the khakis didn’t feel strange, he said, but being called “chief” for the first time did.

“People were saying ‘Congratulations Chief.’ I thought, ‘Wow, they’re talking to me.’”

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Jennifer reports on the U.S. military from Kaiserslautern, Germany, where she writes about the Air Force, Army and DODEA schools. She’s had previous assignments for Stars and Stripes in Japan, reporting from Yokota and Misawa air bases. Before Stripes, she worked for daily newspapers in Wyoming and Colorado. She’s a graduate of the College of William and Mary in Virginia.

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