Guam - For many Sailors in the Navy, ranking up to the next pay grade is a goal to strive for. Some are fortunate enough to achieve it within a few tries, but for others it can take some time. In the case of Senior Chief Quartermaster Kevin Oliver, aboard the Harpers Ferry-class amphibious dock landing ship USS Harpers Ferry (LSD 49), it took 11 years of hard work, dedication and patience.
Oliver joined the Navy July 4th, 1998 leaving his hometown of Midway, Utah, with aspirations to be apart of something bigger than himself.
“There was nothing going on back home,” said Oliver. “To have a job back home and work at a bank all my life didn’t seem suitable. I just couldn’t see myself not doing something good in my life. Back then, there was so much death and strife in South America that I wanted to help do something about it.”
Oliver made chief in 2008 and spent the next 11 years trying to make senior chief.
“The reality is nobody trains you how to make senior chief,” said Oliver. “You get good training when you’re junior in the Navy. They tell you what quals [qaulifications] to get and what to study, but to make senior chief or master chief, there’s a whole different set of criteria. When I came in, that stuff wasn’t as easily available online.”
On May 29, 2019, Oliver was in an ops intel meeting when news was passed over the 1MC aboard the Harpers Ferry that all of his hard work had finally paid off. He had finally made senior chief.
“I was shocked,” said Oliver. “I didn’t think I was going to make it at all. I put in a lot of work and I had done what I always knew I needed to do to make it but I had all but given up and moved on.”
With his new title, Oliver feels the added pressure and the responsibility that comes with it.
“I absolutely feel the pressure to be successful, but it’s not a bad pressure. It’s a good pressure. It’s a pressure to succeed for all the guys who worked to get me here. It’s more self imposed pressure to be better. I like taking jobs that are challenging.”
Making senior chief totally changed the course of Oliver’s life and career.
“This last year, I was doing all the planning to separate at 20 years,” said Oliver “Not necessarily because I was bitter or sick of it. It’s just, at 11 years and you haven’t promoted, there’s just no reason to stick around. That’s the decision I made and I was absolutely going to do it, but then I made senior chief and that changes a lot.”
Oliver said if he decides to stay in it will be for one major reason.
“So if I do stay, based on long talks with my family when I get back, it’s gonna be to do things for my troops in the Navy. “
Oliver wants to eventually become a command master chief so he can improve command’s that need a strong coach and leader to inspire Sailors.