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Petty Officer 3rd Class Matthew Weil and Petty Officer 3rd Class Kelly Mulligan both say they feel a sense of accomplishment in earning their new ranks as petty officers.
Petty Officer 3rd Class Matthew Weil and Petty Officer 3rd Class Kelly Mulligan both say they feel a sense of accomplishment in earning their new ranks as petty officers. (Greg Tyler / S&S)

SASEBO NAVAL BASE, Japan — For 36 sailors shore-based here, a frocking ceremony Monday signifying their promotions from seamen, or E-3s, to petty officers third class, or E-4s, represents a career milestone.

The frocking ceremony comes after a week of indoctrination focused on the skills needed and new responsibilities that come with a promotion to E-4, according to Master Chief Petty Officer Robert Ford, coordinator of the Petty Officer Indoctrination Course in Sasebo.

The courses span about 20 hours in a classroom, with sessions taught by sailors ranked petty officers first class, or E-6s, said Petty Officer 1st Class Heather Charlot, who assisted Ford as an indoctrination coordinator.

The classes include sessions on communication, leadership, ethics and core values, managing stress, human behavior, military justice and military history, Ford said.

“During advancements from E-3 to E-4, it’s a time when you have the largest number of sailors advancing at once,” he said.

In addition to the 36 from Sasebo’s shore command, another 120 sailors attached to ships operating from Sasebo received promotions to E-4, Ford said.

Being frocked means new E-4s “can wear the crows,” which is the chevron insignia, and begin new duties and responsibilities but still have to wait for administrative measures to reflect changes in their paychecks.

Nevertheless, new Petty Officer 3rd Class Kelly Mulligan said Friday the promotion gives her a gratifying sense of accomplishment.

“I definitely feel like I’ve reached a milestone,” she said. “I was very excited … I called my parents right away.”

A master-at-arms, she’s been in the Navy two years, earning the E-3 to E-4 promotion on her first attempt.

“I think the indoctrination classes showed us a lot, as well as provided us time for transition and to get used to the idea of being a petty officer,” Mulligan said.

Even though leadership skills are stressed in indoctrination, she said, the leadership exerted “depends a great deal on your rate. Leadership takes time. I see it more as a gradual thing … becoming a petty officer being a transition into leadership.”

Ford said promotion from E-3 to E-4 isn’t an accurate indicator of whether a sailor will make a career of the Navy, but it is a motivating factor.

“As for me,” Mulligan said, “At this time, I’m not really sure how long I plan to stay in the military. But making rank sure does make you think about staying in.”

New Petty Officer 3rd Class Mathew Weil also sees his promotion as an important milestone and source of satisfaction, but he doesn’t plan to stay in the Navy.

“I’m excited, but I still plan to get out,” said Weil, a Navy journalist who’s been in three years.

Weil also said he found the indoctrination classes valuable.

“At first, when I thought about the classes, I was really dreading it,” he said.

“But I learned things from the specific experiences of some of the instructors. And from things in the classes that made me reflect upon certain decisions I’ve made in my own life.”

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