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Story Archives: Monterey's Master Chief
|Monterey's Master Chief|
As one of 14 children growing up in Monterey, Master Chief Mattie M. Wells learned early about working hard for what you get.
"Our parents (Coley and Thelma Wells) raised us to work hard and do the best we could," Wells said. "Growing up in a small town in our environment we were always a close-knit community. We knew nobody was going to be looking at us because we were a small school and we had to work even harder to accomplish our goals. My mom is a big reason I've been able to accomplish my goals."
Wells has certainly accomplished many goals in her life.
She enlisted in the United States Navy on May 3, 1983 and completed basic training at Recruit Training Command Orlando, FL in July 1983. Wells continued on to Apprenticeship Training at Naval Training Command, Orlando Fl.
"I had dropped out of college because I ran out of money," Wells said. "I didn't like sitting around doing nothing, so I joined the Navy to get money to attend school."
Wells is a graduate of the U.S. Navy Senior Enlisted Academy Class 126 Brown. She reported to Commander, Submarine Forces Atlantic in Norfolk, Virginia in August 2006. She was selected as a Command Master Chief in January 2007. She is a graduate of the CMC/COB Course, Class 42. She reported onboard the USS Leyte Gulf in October 2007 as the Command Master Chief.
Wells has steadily moved up the ladder in the Navy.
Her duty assignments have included USS Emory S. Land (AS-39) at Naval Operation Base, Norfolk, Virginia, Defense Information Systems Agency, Communications Management Control Activity in Arlington, Virginia, served as a Detailer at Navy Personnel Command in Millington, TN.
She was selected to the rank of Master Chief Petty Officer in May 2005 while assigned to USS Bataam. While onboard the Bataan she accompanied the ship during Operation Iraqi Freedom II and was one of the first Navy warships that participated in Joint Task Force Hurricane Katrina search, rescue, and relief efforts.
"That was kind of scary because I have a lot of relatives in New Orleans," Wells said. "I was just praying. To go in and rescue people close to home was a humbling experience. These people were not refugees, they were citizens caught in a bad situation by a natural disaster."
Throughout her career, Master Chief Wells was a member of All-Navy Women's basketball team four times.
"I played basketball at Monterey," she said. "There was not a whole lot else to do and it was a way to get out of the house."
In addition to various unit awards, Master Chief Well's personal awards include Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Joint Service Commendation Medal, Navy Commendation Medal with one Gold Star and Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal with four Gold stars.
As Master Chief, Wells is third in command of the newly-built USS Gravely (DDG-107), an Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer in the United States Navy. She is named after Vice Admiral Samuel Lee Gravely Jr.
"I have to make sure the sailors have what the need for their next job, take care of any personal issues and make sure they have what the need to succeed," Wells said. "And I have to make sure the ship is operating properly."
Gravely is the 57th destroyer in her class. She was authorized in September, 2002 and was constructed at Ingalls Shipbuilding. Gravely was launched on March 30, 2009. Designated DDG 107, the 57th Arleigh Burke class destroyer Gravely will be able to conduct a variety of operations, from peacetime presence and crisis management to sea control and power projection.
Gravely will be capable of fighting air, surface and subsurface battles simultaneously and contains myriad offensive and defensive weapons designed to support maritime warfare in keeping with "A Cooperative Strategy for 21st Century Seapower," the new maritime strategy that postures the sea services to apply maritime power to protect U.S. vital interests in an increasingly interconnected and uncertain world.
Cmdr. Douglas Kunzman is the prospective commanding officer of the ship and will lead the crew of 276 officers and enlisted personnel.
The 9,200-ton Gravely is being built by Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding - Gulf Coast in Pascagoula, MS. The ship is 509 feet in length, has a waterline beam of 59 feet and a navigational draft of 31 feet. Four gas turbine engines will power the ship to speeds in excess of 30 knots.
The ship is named for Vice-Admiral Samuel Lee Gravely, Jr., who had a distinguished naval career as a surface warfare officer and manager during 38 years in the Navy. He was the first African-American to command a combatant ship (Theodore E. Chandler), to be promoted to flag rank, and to command a naval fleet.
Gravely's life and naval career, spanning from 1944 to 1982, also reflect the improved status of African-Americans in the Navy and in American Society. As a distinguished veteran of World War II, and the Korean and Vietnam Wars, his military service suggests several qualities that a successful leader should possess.
Gravely was a strategist as he faced more than a few challenges. Instead of being overwhelmed by them or focusing on them, he found creative ways to circumvent them or to accept them and he always strove to learn from his experiences. Gravely never sat on his laurels.
"I met his wife and children and that was an awesome experience," Wells said. "He's helped a lot of people reach milestones in their lives. His wife continues to do that. She is an awesome lady."
Wells said she and her crew stand at the ready at all times for any prospective volatile situations around the globe.
"We'll always be able to do what we need regardless of who is doing what," she said. "We are prepared at all times for any situation."
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