The Navy Office of Community Outreach has announced Lance Vennard, Palestine, was promoted to Chief Petty Officer. The Navy chief continues a 124-year-old, time-honored tradition and represents only 8.5 percent of all sailors serving today. Chief Petty Officer Vennard is currently serving with Navy Personnel Command. This sailor is one of only 4,400 sailors who were advanced out of 22,000 eligible this year. (Submitted photo)
A Palestine native has earned an honor rare among U.S. naval personnel.
Navy Chief Fire Controlman Lance Vennard was recently promoted to chief petty officer, an accomplishment that only one in five eligible sailors achieve each year.
Chief Vennard, a 2005 Palestine High School graduate, is currently serving at Navy Personnel Command.
"This means so much to me," Vennard said. "It is something I set out to achieve and now it is happening. The biggest thing is that I know my dad is smiling down from heaven."
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.
In fact, Vennard and the other four CPOs were chosen from 4,400 sailors who were advanced out of 22,000 eligible this year. They continue a 124-year-old tradition.
To be selected for this promotion, sailors must be a petty officer first 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 navy 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.
"The biggest thing is that I cared about my sailors," Vennard said.
"I had one sailor contact me after I had transferred from my last command and thank me for being tough on him. That he appreciated that I cared and pushed him to do better," he said. "These things help motivate me to continue on and be selected for chief."
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.
"My family has always been there for me," Vennard said. "I definitely had some tough times. I just want to say thank you to them and my friends as well back in P-town. Go Pioneers!"