Former TR Airman Returns as Master Chief

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     Aerographer’s Mate Master Chief (select) Manuel Santos stood with his son, Personnel Specialist 3rd Class Osckar Santiago, on the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) , May 4, wearing the anchor and star of a senior chief petty officer. Moments later, his son removed the collar device and pinned his father with the two-starred anchor of a master chief.

     Santos was a young airman learning his way around the Navy when he first stepped aboard TR in 1994. More than two decades later, he was promoted to the Navy’s highest enlisted rank on board the same ship where his career started.

     “It’s surreal to think about it,” said Santos. “When I first came here I was painting and [working] on the mess decks like every young Sailor. 21 years later, I’m back here getting pinned as a master chief. It’s a really humbling experience returning to your roots.”

     Following in his father’s footsteps, TR is Santiago’s first ship following two years of shore duty at Personnel Support Detachment Afloat, Norfolk, Va.

     “It’s exciting knowing that he [Santos] was here before too,” said Santiago. “It’s like already having a mentor as soon as you get to the ship.”

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     Attached to Destroyer Squadron 2, Santos reported to TR for the second time shortly before TR left for deployment.

     “Having my son here with me makes it feel more like home,” said Santos. “The Navy has been great to me, but one day I’ll have to retire. Family is forever.”

     Santiago said that he has also enjoyed the months spent with his father during this deployment, and their bond makes time away from home much easier.

     “Usually you don’t get to see your family a lot so it was nice being able to talk to him every day,” said Santiago.

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      Along with his son, Santos chose his protégé, Aerographer’s Mate Airman Julien Patton, to ceremoniously pin him with his master chief collar devices.

     “The two of them represented important things in my life,” said Santos. “I wanted my son there because he’s my family and that’s what’s most important to me. I also wanted to have Airman Patton there because he represents where I started from.”

     Santos departed TR following the recent Bahrain port visit. As his career came full circle on TR, the newly pinned master chief left behind words of wisdom for all the Sailors on board.

     “Do the right thing for [everyone who] works for you and your evaluations will write themselves,” said Santos. “Don’t live every day waiting to see if you got selected for advancement. Just take care of your people and everything will work out.”

      Theodore Roosevelt is the flagship of the Theodore Roosevelt Carrier Strike Group (TRCSG), which is composed of Carrier Strike Group 12, Carrier Air Wing 1, Destroyer Squadron 2 staff, the guided-missile cruiser USS Normandy (CG 60) and the guided-missile destroyers USS Winston S. Churchill (DDG 81), USS Farragut (DDG 90) and USS Forrest Sherman (DDG 98).

      Theodore Roosevelt is deployed in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations supporting Operation Inherent Resolve, strike operations in Iraq and Syria as directed, maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the region.

By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Taylor L. Jackson, USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) Public Affairs

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