08 July, 2006 - By Ensign Bradley Smith, USS Guardian Public Affairs SASEBO, Japan (NNS) -- Years of educational hard work and dedication culminated June 30 at a ceremony held at Fleet Activities Sasebo (CFAS) for graduates of the Navy College Program for Afloat Education (NCPACE). All those who were part of the ceremony earned associate’s degrees.
Among those being honored were six Sailors from USS Guardian (MCM 5), including the entire chief petty officer (CPO) mess.
In recognition of their efforts and of the emphasis the command places on education and self-improvement, Guardian’s entire crew attended the ceremony.
Information Technician 1st Class (SW) Dennis Byrd, one of the graduates and head of the PACE program aboard Guardian, credited the leadership aboard Guardian with creating a command climate where education flourished.
“Seeing the whole Guardian chief’s mess graduate at the same time really shows the lead-from-the-front-mentality they bring to the table in not only education, but in every part of their day-to-day duties”, said Byrd, who earned a degree in computer studies from Coastline Community College.
Guardian Commanding Officer, Lt. Cmdr. Steven H. DeMoss, paid tribute to all the graduates and emphasized that Friday’s graduation ceremony would certainly not be the last for Guardian crew members.
NCPACE is the Navy’s primary channel for Sailors afloat to work toward higher education. The self-paced courses do not require Internet connectivity and are thus tailored to Sailors at sea, especially on smaller ships like Guardian, where Internet is not readily available under way.
Nearly 50 percent of Guardian’s crew is currently enrolled in college courses through the NCPACE program. The ship was honored last year for its perfect class completion rate, the highest in U.S. 7th Fleet. Guardian also had a remarkable 98 percent passing rate in courses attempted.
Joining Byrd were fellow Guardian graduates from Coastline Community College: Command Senior Enlisted Advisor (SEA) Senior Chief Information Technician (SW) Joseph Lafayette with a degree in computer studies, Senior Chief Mineman (SW) Dean Venczel and Chief Storekeeper (SW) Peter Rogers with degrees in business management, and Senior Chief Engineman (SW) Donald Colbert with a degree in applied marine engineering.
Also honored was Hospital Corpsman 1st Class (SW/FMF) Douglas Steinmetz who received an associate’s degree in general studies from Central Texas Community College.
Guardian is a mine countermeasures ship forward-deployed to Sasebo, Japan. Guardian and USS Patriot (MCM 7) serve under Task Force 76, which serves as the 7th Fleet’s Mine Countermeasures arm in forward-deployed operations.