He received recruit training and quartermaster training at Orlando, Fla., followed by Submarine School at Groton, Conn. His first duty assignment was on board USS Ethan Allen (SSN 608) where he completed submarine qualifications.
Other assignments included: USS Thomas Edison (SSN 610), USS Sea Devil (SSN 664), Commander Naval Activities United Kingdom (COMNAVACTUK), USS Tecumseh (SSBN 628)(Blue) and Commander, Submarine Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet (COMSUBPAC) Staff (TRE Team).
He was then assigned as chief of the boat (COB) on board the San Diego-based fast attack submarine, USS Portsmouth (SSN 707), completing 2 Western Pacific deployments. The crew earned two Battle Efficiency “E” awards.
Upon completion of a command master chief (CMC) tour at COMSUBRON 11, he was selected as force master chief, COMSUBPAC from January 2001 to 2004. West was then assigned to USS Preble (DDG-88) homeported in San Diego, where he deployed to the Persian Gulf and qualified as an enlisted surface warfare specialist.
West was selected during his tour on the Preble to serve as Pacific Fleet (PACFLT), fleet master chief from February 2005 to June 2007. Following PACFLT, he served as the 14th fleet master chief for the Commander, U.S. Fleet Forces Command.
West’s personal awards include the Legion of Merit (two awards), Meritorious Service Medal (three awards), Navy Commendation Medal (four awards), Navy Achievement Medal (two awards), Enlisted Surface Warfare Insignia, Enlisted Submarine Insignia and SSBN Deterrent Patrol Pin.
Note: Times have changed. My OCS instructor, CWO4 Wallace Louis Exum, served in the Navy from 1942-1985 (through WWII, Korea and Vietnam). In those 43 years, he earned a Purple Heart for wounds received at IWO JIMA and a Navy Achievement Medal for saving a sinking ship that was on fire in San Francisco Bay. At 81 years of age, I am sure he would like to read the citations for the MCPON's Legions of Merit.