ABOARD USS RONALD REAGAN, At Sea (NNS) - USS Ronald Reagan CWO Leon A. Cole made history as the first officer in the U.S. Navy to be promoted to the rank of CWO5 during a ceremony held Oct. 1 aboard the ship.
Cole was the first of 17 to be advanced from a field of 222 candidates. The rank of chief warrant officer 5 was established in October 2002 to ensure the Navy attracts and retains the very best technical leadership for a full 30-year career.
Chief of Naval Personnel Vice Adm. Gerald L. Hoewing embarked Ronald Reagan to help promote Cole.
"We're out at sea on the Navy's newest aircraft carrier to promote Chief Warrant Officer Cole to the new rank of CWO5. This is how it should be done," he said.
Reagan's commanding officer, Capt. James Symonds, beamed with pride, saying, "On the newest ship, we have the newest CWO5. It can't get any better than this."
For Cole, the ship's food service officer, being the first to advance to the rank of CWO5 is a rewarding moment in a career spanning 29 years.
"I felt really great when I found out I was selected for this new promotion," said Cole. "It was such a good feeling to know I have finally reached the pinnacle of my military career."
The Antiqua, West Indies, native joined the Navy in 1974 at the age of 24. In his career, Cole has been assigned to 13 various commands, and his hard-work ethic and strong leadership have always attracted the attention of his co-workers. To some, Cole may have a strict demeanor, but to others, he is a positive image who can leave a life-long treasure of good impressions.
"I reported to the Ronald Reagan as a first class," said CMS(AW/SW) Anthony Thompson of S-2 Div. "Mr. Cole told me if I wanted to make chief, I needed to become a part of the 'Dream Team.'"
According to Cole, the "Dream Team" consists of Ronald Reagan's senior food service management.
"I try to recruit management personnel who are willing to learn and are loyal," Cole said. "They don't need a lot of experience. With time, they can become something dynamic."
"Becoming a part of the 'Dream Team' had a great impact on my advancement to chief petty officer," said Thompson.
Although Cole has been instrumental in the accelerated advancement of his staff, climbing the ladder of success to CWO5 wasn't an easy evolution for Cole. He believes his positive role models, friends, supervisors and co-workers made things a little less stressful.
"The crewmembers of USS L.Y. Spear (AS 36) were my role models," said Cole, when asked what influenced him the most. "There isn't one person I could contribute my entire success to in my career, but aboard the L.Y. Spear, I was surrounded by so many positive, professional people doing the right things that I naturally learned to do the same."
Cole is never satisfied with just average results, according to SCMS(SW) David Robertson of S-2 Division.
"He always tells us to never be content with satisfactory results. Instead, take it to the hilt," said Robertson. "Any young Sailor who has the privilege to ride the 'Cole Train' will be able to go anywhere and run the food service operation, simply because he or she has been molded by the best."
Although he manages more than 200 people aboard Ronald Reagan, Cole finds the junior seamen to be very important.
"The most meaningful people in my division are the seamen," Cole said. "It's extremely important to take care of the guy at the bottom. We, the food service management staff, take care of the little guy, because he's the one putting the pedal to the metal."
While Cole's junior Sailors are making sure the work gets done, he's busy enforcing policies and preparing the mess areas to serve meals to the crew. Some of the crewmembers love the food, as well as the guidelines.
"The food service policies on this ship are the best I've ever seen," said BM1(SW) Danny Brown, leading petty officer of 2nd Division.
Cole enjoys spending quality time by sharing his experiences with his staff, to keep them motivated and on the road to success.
"Have good work ethics, work hard, come to work on time and give it your all," Cole said. "Your hard work needs to come from the heart because if it comes from the heart, you will always give 100 percent."
Cole has five Navy Captain Edward F. Ney memorial awards for food service excellence under his belt: one awarded while aboard USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69), two awarded while aboard USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71), and two more awarded while aboard USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75).