IN THE NAVY 7.6.2019

Becoming Senior Chief: 11 Years in the Making

Senior Chief Quartermaster Kevin Oliver, left, takes a picture with Cmdr. Janice Pollard, commanding officer the USS Harpers Ferry (LSD 49) after he was frocked to Senior Chief Petty Officer aboard the ship. Harpers Ferry is part of the Boxer Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) and 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) team and is deployed to the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operations to support regional stability, reassure partners and allies, and maintain a presence postured to respond to any crisis ranging from humanitarian assistance to contingency operations. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Danielle A. Baker)

By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Danielle A. Baker, Amphibious Squadron Five Public Affairs

GUAM (NNS) — For many Sailors in the Navy, ranking up to the next pay grade is a goal to strive for. Some are fortunate enough to achieve it within a few tries, but for others it can take some time. In the case of Senior Chief Quartermaster Kevin Oliver, aboard the Harpers Ferry-class amphibious dock landing ship USS Harpers Ferry (LSD 49), it took 11 years of hard work, dedication and patience.

Oliver joined the Navy July 4th, 1998 leaving his hometown of Midway, Utah, with aspirations to be apart of something bigger than himself.

“There was nothing going on back home,” said Oliver. “To have a job back home and work at a bank all my life didn’t seem suitable. I just couldn’t see myself not doing something good in my life. Back then, there was so much death and strife in South America that I wanted to help do something about it.”

Oliver made chief in 2008 and spent the next 11 years trying to make senior chief.

“The reality is nobody trains you how to make senior chief,” said Oliver. “You get good training when you’re junior in the Navy. They tell you what quals [qaulifications] to get and what to study, but to make senior chief or master chief, there’s a whole different set of criteria. When I came in, that stuff wasn’t as easily available online.”

On May 29, 2019, Oliver was in an ops intel meeting when news was passed over the 1MC aboard the Harpers Ferry that all of his hard work had finally paid off. He had finally made senior chief.

“I was shocked,” said Oliver. “I didn’t think I was going to make it at all. I put in a lot of work and I had done what I always knew I needed to do to make it but I had all but given up and moved on.”

With his new title, Oliver feels the added pressure and the responsibility that comes with it.

“I absolutely feel the pressure to be successful, but it’s not a bad pressure. It’s a good pressure. It’s a pressure to succeed for all the guys who worked to get me here. It’s more self imposed pressure to be better. I like taking jobs that are challenging.”

Making senior chief totally changed the course of Oliver’s life and career.

“This last year, I was doing all the planning to separate at 20 years,” said Oliver “Not necessarily because I was bitter or sick of it. It’s just, at 11 years and you haven’t promoted, there’s just no reason to stick around. That’s the decision I made and I was absolutely going to do it, but then I made senior chief and that changes a lot.”

Oliver said if he decides to stay in it will be for one major reason.

“So if I do stay, based on long talks with my family when I get back, it’s gonna be to do things for my troops in the Navy. “

Oliver wants to eventually become a command master chief so he can improve command’s that need a strong coach and leader to inspire Sailors.


This Week in History: War on the Korean Peninsula

By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Michael Botts, USS George Washington (CVN 73) Public Affairs

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (NNS) — At the end of World War II, Japanese-occupied Korea was temporarily split at the 38th parallel of latitude north of the equator by the United States and the Soviet Union. As a result of the division, two countries were formed: Soviet-supported communist North Korea and United States-supported South Korea.

On June 25, 1950, five years after the divide of the countries, Kim Il Sung, the communist leader of North Korea, initiated a surprise attack on South Korea. Two days later, with the belief that the Soviet Union was backing the North Korean assault, President Harry S. Truman, the 33rd president of the United States, followed through on his “Truman Doctrine,” a policy designed to curb the spread of Soviet Union-supported communism in European and Asian countries following World War II.

The Truman Doctrine was a policy and a promise to the rest of the world that the United States would provide any economic or military support to stop the spread of communism. Truman assembled with the United Nations Security Council to form an American-led United Nations (UN) coalition force to send to aid South Korea. This effectively led to the start of the Korean War.

Two months after the initial invasion, North Korean forces controlled most of South Korea. The American-led forces formed a defensive perimeter by the South Korean port city of Busan in the southeast of the country.

That September, forces under the command of Gen. Douglas MacArthur put in motion a counterattack on the North Korean forces. During the counterattack, the United States launched an amphibious landing on South Korea’s western coast, in the North Korean-controlled city of Inchon. The landing later became known as one of the most successful military operations in modern times and would act as the turning point in the war. It ultimately reversed the near-total occupation of North Korean forces in South Korea and the recapture of the South Korean capital city, Seoul.

Not long after the counterattack, the United States and UN forces were able to push the invading troops back to the North Korean border at the 38th parallel.

Following the retreat of North Korean forces, the Truman administration chose to continue their advance beyond the 38th parallel. As troops neared the border with China, Chinese leaders, fearing an invasion of American and UN forces, amassed tens of thousands of Chinese soldiers and sent them cascading into North Korea to stop the advance into North Korea and force them back across the 38th parallel.

Over the course of the next two years, the border saw times of relentless battles between the North Korean forces and the American-led forces. Ultimately the border held and in 1953, an armistice between North and South Korea reestablished the pre-war border.

This armistice created the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ), a 2.5 mile-wide, heavily-armed area between North and South Korea that is still in place today.

Frequently called “The Forgotten War” due to taking place between World War II and Vietnam, the Korean War was nonetheless a major conflict in our nation’s history. It is estimated that 36,500 American service members lost their lives, along with hundreds of thousands of North Korean, South Korean, and coalition armed forces and civilians.

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