Navy Chief Aviation Structural Mechanic Jose Suarezochoa from Royal Palm Beach was recently promoted to chief petty officer, something that only one in five eligible sailors achieve each year.
Suarezochoa, a 2005 Royal Palm Beach High School graduate, is currently serving with Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron 46.
“Being selected as a chief petty officer is one of, if not the greatest, accomplishment of my naval career,” Suarezochoa said. “As many feelings run through my head, pride is the strongest one.”
Achieving the title of “Navy Chief” is a major honor and milestone. According to Navy Personnel Command, there are only 8.5 percent of sailors currently serving at the chief petty officer rank.
To be selected for this promotion, sailors must be a petty officer 1st class and successfully navigate through two qualifying factors: a job-based exam and a selection review board. A sailor’s record can only proceed to the review board after they score high enough on the exam. Once the exam is passed, their records are reviewed by a panel of senior leaders who meet for six weeks to determine if the individuals meet the standards for selection as a chief petty officer. A sailor’s performance is evaluated for at least five years, and each sailor attributes different experiences for their selection.
“I feel something I did was to listen to my mentors from early in my career. From these teachings I learned to take care of my peers and subordinates,” Suarezochoa said. “It is because of my team that I am here today. Lastly, I always stay hungry and pursue constant improvement.”
During the ceremony, the honored sailors invite friends and family members to pin on the two gold anchors that adorn the newly appointed chiefs’ uniforms, while the sailor’s sponsor places the combination cover on their heads.
“I would like to give thanks to my wife for her support all these years, my family, especially my dad for all he has taught me, especially to never give up and learn from my mistakes,” Suarezochoa said. “Also, to all my mentors and friends who believed in my ability to perform at higher levels. Last, and most important, I would thank God, and my mom, for leading me from heaven.”