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From Lynchburg to leadership: A navy chief petty officer’s journey to becoming a Naval officer

24 June 2024

From Arsenio R. Cortez Jr. - Naval Medical Forces Pacific

Chief Petty Officer Harold Tran took a significant step forward in his Naval career as he was commissioned as a Naval officer, June 21.For Tran, native of Lynchburg, Virginia, this milestone marks the culmination of years of dedication, service, and relentless pursuit of a dream born out of desire for adventure and a commitment to family.Tran’s
Chief Petty Officer Harold Tran took a significant step forward in his Naval career as he was commissioned as a Naval officer, June 21.

For Tran, native of Lynchburg, Virginia, this milestone marks the culmination of years of dedication, service, and relentless pursuit of a dream born out of desire for adventure and a commitment to family.

Tran’s journey began in the halls of E.C. Glass High School in Lynchburg, where he graduated in 2008. With a student population of about 1,400, the school laid the foundation for his disciplined and goal-oriented nature.

Joining the Navy was Tran’s gateway to new horizons. “I wanted to start a new adventure and travel the world,” he recalled.

It was on his first ship that Tran learned about the commissioning program from an old mentor, an Administration Limited Duty Officer (Admin LDO). While onboard USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN69) in 2012, then Ensign Timothy James explained to him about the program. The seed planted from that moment grew over the years, guiding Tran’s career choices and aspirations.

In quest of his aspirations, Tran pursued higher education at the University of Maryland Global Campus in 2017.

Tran chose the administration officer route, driven by a desire to have a larger impact on the community, Sailors, and the Navy itself.

“I wanted to have a bigger impact,” Tran said. “My family was my motivation, I wanted to provide them with a better quality of life while making a bigger impact in the Navy.”

His goal is to provide the highest quality of administrative services with timely results to allow the Sailors to focus on their mission of delivering fully capable strategic assets at sea and maintaining readiness of our warfighters.

That big impact already has started and can be traced from his numerous accomplishments in previous assignments.

His deployments have been extensive, including missions in the 5th and 6th Fleet areas of responsibility in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, a deployment with the Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group, and a patrol in the South China Sea. Among his numerous assignments, his time on the USS Mustin (DDG 89) from October 2018 to 2021 stands out.

“It was my most rewarding assignment,” Tran reflects. “As the ship’s secretary in a forward-deployed Naval forces environment providing administrative support to more than 300 crew, it was by far my most challenging tour. It prepared me for the transition to become an Officer.”

More recently, as a flag writer for the commander of Naval Medical Forces Pacific, Tran was instrumental in coordinating command visits to more than 20 Medical Treatment Facilities here and abroad. Tran also played a critical role in coordinating site visits to eight research laboratories across the globe, significantly impacting the commander’s ability to integrate research, development, training, and evaluation enterprise.

Due to his proven history of providing thoughtful and valuable counsel to the command staff and his commitment to Sailors, Tran was hand-selected by the NMFP’s command master chief on several occasions to act as his replacement during scheduled absences and travel.

Tran’s exceptional performance at NMFP has not gone unnoticed. In conjunction to his commissioning, he also received a Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal. Rear Adm. Guido Valdes, NMFP commander and director, Defense Health Network Pacific Rim, praised Tran’s achievements.

“Ensign Tran’s outstanding career is now capped by a well-deserved commission as a Naval officer,” Valdes said. “I look forward to crossing paths again in the wardroom.”
In his remarks during Tran’s commissioning, Valdes reminded him to expect challenges as he embarks on his new role as a Naval officer.

“It only gets more difficult from here,” Valdes said. “But I know you well.”

Tran attributes his successful transition from enlisted to officer to a blend of humility, experience, and the ability to empathize with his Sailors.

“I understand the dynamics on the deck plates,” he said. “Ever since I joined the Navy, I’ve always imagined myself as an officer. I thought becoming a chief was an unnecessary step to become an officer. But being on the deck plates, being that person that junior Sailors come to for guidance, setting the example for others to emulate, providing sound counsel to today’s division officers or tomorrow’s commanding officers, I am proud to have become a chief petty officer of the United States Navy.”

Tran’s family, consisting of his wife Naira and their children Hero and Harleen, has been a central pillar of his support. Reflecting on his journey, Tran acknowledged the personal sacrifices made along the way.

"I wanted to be the hard worker that everyone relied on and also be the subject matter expert in my field,” Tran shared.

But that also sometimes mean time away from helping his wife raise their family. The frequent relocations inherent to military life posed a significant challenge.

“I’m sorry for having to pack the house and make you move with me every three years,” Tran said as he addressed his wife during his commissioning ceremony. “I’m sorry for leaving you behind while on deployment to protect the country.”

Tran continued reminding everyone of his wife’s crucial part to his success and to the person he has become today.

“Even though everyone in this room played a vital part to my success, my wife played the most crucial role in my life,” Tran explained. “I wouldn’t be here today if you didn’t support my every need, and I need you for another 10 years to fulfill my obligation because I can’t do this without you.”

Mentorship has played a crucial role in Tran’s development. Although he hesitates to name some of his mentors, he acknowledged the collective influence of those who guided him.

“I’ve learned from each person I look up to and created my own blueprint to reach my goal,” he said.

Retired Chief Warrant Officer 5 Jonathan Mangilit, one of Tran’s mentors and a friend, provided him guidance during the last four years in pursuit of his goal.

“The first time we met, I tell you he wasn’t very happy,” Mangilit said. “I simply told him he was not ready. Just give me a chance and listen to me, and I’ll show you the path to get there. He took that with stride, and I loved his confidence.”

Mangilit emphasized about understanding the needs of the Sailors and listening to their recommendations.

“As leaders, we must take time to listen to them and simply answer their questions in a meaningful way,” he said. “If we don’t, we probably lose the opportunity to develop and influence the future of our Navy.”

The trust between them as mentor and mentee lifted Tran’s confidence and helped his selection to become an officer.

“Your selection is a testament to the achievements you’ve accomplished over the years,” Mangilit said. “You’re exactly the type of leader we want today and tomorrow.”




As Tran prepares to embark on his new role as an administration officer for the USS Blue Ridge (LLC 19) based out of Commander Fleet Activities Yokosuka, Japan, he looks to the future with clear vision and ambition.

“I look forward to being the LDO and Chief Warrant Officer community manager in the future.” Tran said.

For Tran, the path to becoming a Naval officer is more than just a career milestone. It’s a testament to his resilience, dedication, and the unwavering support of his family and mentors. His journey from Lynchburg to leadership exemplifies the Navy core values and the power of perseverance in achieving one’s dreams.

Story originally posted on DVIDS: From Lynchburg to leadership: A navy chief petty officer’s journey to becoming a Naval officer 

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