Making New Chiefs in a Sea of Sand

The charge books and combination covers of three of the Navy's newest chief petty officers, Chief Inteligence Specialist Robert E. Brown, Chief Logistics Specialist William S. Bland and Chief Hospital Corpsman Chrisbert John D. Barbon, are displayed during a ceremony in Kandahar, Afghanistan. (U.S. Navy photo by Lt. j.g. Egdanis Torres Sierra/Released)
18 Sep 2017
By Lt. j.g. Egdanis Torres Sierra, Resolute Support Public Affairs
KANDAHAR, Afghanistan (NNS) -- Proudly dressed in combat uniform wearing the insignias distinctive of the U.S. Navy, three seasoned Sailors were pinned with their anchors at a ceremony at the Kandahar Airfield Multinational Medical Unit, becoming the Navy's newest chief petty officers.

HMC (FMF) Chrisbert John D. Barbon, LSC William R. Bland and ISC Robert E. Brown were tested, selected and accepted by the Chief's mess at a location best described by all of them, as a sea of sand.

Rear Adm. Kelly Aeschbach presided the ceremony and spoke about the unique challenges of the Chief induction process while deployed to war zone.

"The Chief induction process is challenging under any circumstances. But you have successfully navigated it while working long, demanding days and weeks in a deployed combat environment," Aeschbach said. "This additional stress, the small selectee cohort, and absence of normal support structure of local friends and family has undoubtedly prepared you even better for this day."

The admiral praised them for their efforts to defend the United States and support the government and people of Afghanistan.

"This is a unique experience; working in a hospital taking care of casualties and also having to comply with the demands of the indoctrination process and training was challenging but worthy. Everything I have experienced and endured will help me, help others," explained Barbon.

The sound of two bells announced in Afghanistan that the highly regarded moment finally arrived for them to becoming chiefs.

Their true inspiration and the strength for continuing their quest were thousands of miles away.

"I want to do right by my son and make him proud. Giving up was not an option" expressed Brown.

After trying several times to be selected as a chief, Barbon described himself as a living proof that if you really have your heart in your actions, you will achieve your goals. 

"I want to make my family proud and be an example for my kids. Teach them with my actions to keep on trying when they feel in their hearts it is the right goal, of never giving up," expressed Barbon.

Bland thanked those who supported him.

"I owed this honor to those who helped me. To those who never gave up on me," said Bland.

During the traditional ceremony, these three chiefs - with 42 years of collective service stood at attention, marched and saluted proudly as a collective mess of deployed chiefs welcomed them into the Navy's proudest ranks.

For over 120 years, only the most talented and capable sailors have been chosen to wear the golden anchors, earning the privileged right to be called "chief."


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