Navy Hails Cosby as Honorary Chief Petty Officer

WASHINGTON — Navy Sec­re­tary Ray Mabus and Mas­ter Chief Pet­ty Offi­cer of the Navy Rick D. West rec­og­nized actor, come­di­an and for­mer sailor Bill Cos­by as an hon­orary chief pet­ty offi­cer in a cer­e­mo­ny yes­ter­day at the U.S. Navy Memo­r­i­al and Naval Her­itage Cen­ter.

U.S. Navy Memorial in Washington, D.C.
Actor and come­di­an Bill Cos­by stands between Mas­ter Chief Pet­ty Offi­cer of the Navy Rick D. West and Navy Sec­re­tary Ray Mabus dur­ing a Feb. 17, 2011, cer­e­mo­ny at the U.S. Navy Memo­r­i­al in Wash­ing­ton, D.C., in which Cos­by was rec­og­nized as an hon­orary chief pet­ty offi­cer.
U.S. Navy pho­to by Pet­ty Offi­cer 2nd Class Jason M. Gra­ham
Click to enlarge

“Bill Cos­by is not just a come­di­an and an actor — although he’s pret­ty good at both — he’s also been a tire­less advo­cate for social respon­si­bil­i­ty and edu­ca­tion and a con­stant friend to the Navy,” Mabus said. “Last year was the high­est com­pli­ment I’ve ever received –- being made an hon­orary chief pet­ty offi­cer, and now Dr. Cos­by –- you’re about to get the same hon­or.”

Cos­by holds a doc­tor of edu­ca­tion degree from the Uni­ver­si­ty of Mass­a­chu­setts.

Mabus and West placed chief pet­ty offi­cer anchors on Cos­by in front of a huge gath­er­ing of chief pet­ty offi­cers and oth­er sailors. West helped Cos­by don a chief hos­pi­tal corpsman’s ser­vice dress blue jack­et, and Mabus pre­sent­ed Cos­by with the accom­pa­ny­ing visored hat.

“I will tell to you like I tell all of our new chiefs … when I pin these anchors on you, your job isn’t over and your jour­ney is just begin­ning,” West said to Cos­by. “There is no greater hon­or than hav­ing earned the title “Chief” — and the respon­si­bil­i­ty to our sailors and our Navy that comes with it — and we will expect more of you.”

Cos­by expressed his grat­i­tude for the hon­or and for the lessons he learned in his Navy ser­vice.

“[Over] the years I spent in the Navy, and so many moments remem­ber­ing that, the Navy gave me a wake-up call. The Navy showed me obe­di­ence, and that’s the thing that pushed me to real­ize the mis­takes I had made in my young life at 19 years old, and that I could do some­thing with myself and become some­body.”

Cos­by began his rela­tion­ship with the Navy in 1956, when he joined as a hos­pi­tal corps­man and attend­ed recruit train­ing at Naval Train­ing Cen­ter Bain­bridge, Md.

Dur­ing his four-year tour, Cos­by was sta­tioned at Marine Corps Base Quan­ti­co, Va.; the Nation­al Naval Med­ical Cen­ter in Bethes­da, Md.; Naval Hos­pi­tal Argen­tia, New­found­land; aboard USS Fort Man­dan; and Philadel­phia Naval Hos­pi­tal.

At Quan­ti­co and Bethes­da, Cos­by worked in phys­i­cal ther­a­py, help­ing to reha­bil­i­tate Kore­an War vet­er­ans, a duty he said he liked and excelled at. He was also an ath­lete for the Navy, play­ing foot­ball, bas­ket­ball, base­ball, and run­ning track and field.

Cos­by said the Navy trans­formed him from an aim­less, une­d­u­cat­ed kid into a man with dri­ve, dis­ci­pline and self-respect.

He was hon­or­ably dis­charged in 1960 as a pet­ty offi­cer 3rd class. His awards includ­ed Navy Good Con­duct Medal and Nation­al Defense Ser­vice Medal. He also received the 2010 Lone Sailor Award from the U.S. Navy Memo­r­i­al.

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)

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