Military Photo: Navy Makes Cosby Honorary Chief

Posted: 02/01/2011

WASHINGTON (Feb. 17, 2011) Secretary of the Navy (SECNAV) the Honorable Ray Mabus, right, applauds after the reading of orders making comedian Bill Cosby an honorary chief hospital corpsman during his pinning ceremony at the U.S. Navy Memorial in Washington, D.C. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Jason M. Graham)

WASHINGTON (NNS) -- Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy (MCPON)(SS/SW) Rick D. West, along with Secretary of the Navy (SECNAV) Ray Mabus recognized actor/comedian and former Sailor, Bill Cosby, as an honorary chief petty officer in a ceremony held at the U.S. Navy Memorial and Naval Heritage Center Feb. 17.

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, he was stationed at Marine Corps Base Quantico, National Naval Medical Center Bethesda, Naval Hospital Argentia, Newfoundland, USS Fort Mandan (LSD 21), and Philadelphia Naval Hospital. 

During his time at Quantico and Bethesda, Cosby worked in Physical Therapy helping to rehabilitate Korean War veterans, a duty he liked and excelled at. 

He was also an athlete for the Navy playing football, basketball, baseball, and running track and field. 

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

"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," said Mabus. "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."

MCPON and SECNAV placed the Chief anchors on Cosby in front of a huge gathering of Chief Petty Officers and Sailors. MCPON helped Cosby don a Chief Hospital Corpsman service dress blue jacket and SECNAV presented Cosby with a Chief's cover.

"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," said West. "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." 

"Thank you all," said Cosby. "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 was honorably discharged in 1960 as a Hospital Corpsman 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. 

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