A virtual journey to Chief

U.S. Navy courtesy photo by Dallas Hermsen
U.S. Navy courtesy photo by Dallas Hermsen

A virtual journey to Chief

by Emiley Murphy
Commander, Fleet Activities Yokosuka

YOKOSUKA, JAPAN - When Master-at-Arms 1st Class Dallas Hermsen considered that she might one day be a chief, she never imagined it would be during a worldwide pandemic. She also never imagined that she would spend the majority of her chief season in a restriction of movement (ROM) status or that she would attend her pinning ceremony virtually.

Originally from Grand Junction, Colo., Hermsen has served 17 years in the Navy as a member of the master at arms community. When orders to USS Curtis Wilbur (DDG 54) opened, she jumped on the opportunity to return to Japan.

“I actually picked these orders because I wanted to come back to Japan. I was in Sasebo before and I loved the culture; I loved the food … that was why I picked these orders,” said Hermsen.

Hermsen first heard she was selected for chief while completing training in San Diego. What followed was a press to finish her training, prepare for an overseas move, and figure out how and where she would participate in the traditional chief season. After a bit of back-and-forth, Hermsen was informed that she would be a part of the Commander, Fleet Activities Yokosuka’s (CFAY) chief season.

“Just the way that the CFAY mess, where nobody knew me, just took me on. I love that,” Hermsen said reflecting upon her experience. “I just walked in and I’m part of the group, I’m part of the season and everybody just engulfed me in the environment. I thought that was great.”

Throughout this global pandemic, CFAY has embraced modern technology to ensure this chief season is like no other. Hermsen’s participation in the event is an example of how the chief’s mess has maintained this long-standing tradition in unexpected, but no less effective, ways.

“The planning, coordination and execution required of the CFAY selectees and mess to get her up to speed was a perfect demonstration of the effectiveness and grace of the mess in absorbing new challenges without disruption to the mission,” said Senior Chief Boatswain’s Mate Anjian Deng, one of this season’s leading chief petty officers. “The CFAY mess made full use of video conferencing to ensure she didn’t miss even a minute of valuable training. As she undergoes her second ROM period, prior to meeting her ship, the mess and selectees are already working on a creative solution to ensure she is pinned on the same day as the group.”

Contemplating what she has learned through this experience, Hermsen has chosen to focus on flexibility.

“[I’m proud of] the ability to stay flexible and to coordinate with two commands and stay up with everything,” Hermsen said. “I know a lot of people say that I’m in a unique situation, but I don’t feel that unique. I guess it is, but the mission comes first.”

Hermsen is echoing the sentiments of the Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy’s (MCPON) encouragement in asking chiefs to grow and do the best they can do.

“This is now your job, your sacred duty, to represent the best of yourself in everything you do,” said MCPON Russell Smith. “Confront your destiny head-on. Be the leader that you are capable of, continuing to grow by giving more and more to our Sailors every day.”

For 75 years, CFAY has provided, maintained and operated base facilities and services in support of the U.S. 7th Fleet's forward-deployed naval forces, tenant commands, and thousands of military and civilian personnel and their families.

Photo Caption:
Master-at-Arms 1st Class Dallas Hermsen smiles for a selfie while in restriction of movement following her move to Yokosuka, Japan. Hermsen has conducted the majority of her CPO season virtually and will be part of the pinning ceremony on Jan. 29. For 75 years, CFAY has provided, maintained, and operated base facilities and services in support of the U.S. 7th Fleet’s forward-operating naval forces, tenant commands, thousands of military and civilian personnel and their families.

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