Pacific Command Community

The Mustang

Story by PO3 Alexander Kubitza on 02/25/2019

PACIFIC OCEAN The mustang is a wild animal, far from a domesticated thoroughbred. After being captured, they can be tamed and saddle broken, but they always have a bit of a wild streak and can periodically revert to their old ways. For the same reason, however, since a mustang was a formerly free animal, it may very well be smarter, more capable and have a better survival instinct than thoroughbreds. The mustang can take care of itself when the going gets tough, thriving on rough treatment. It’s apparent these characteristics exist in both the horse and naval officers who bear the title.

In the Navy, a mustang is an officer who has been promoted up from the ranks of enlisted personnel from an in-service procurement program. The most popular programs are Limited Duty Officer (LDO), Chief Warrant Officer (CWO), Fleet Accession to Officer Candidate School (OCS), Medical Enlisted Commissioning Program (MECP) and Seaman to Admiral – 21st Century (STA-21).

“I did it the hard way, and I earned it,” Ens. Manuel Reynoso said. “Now that I’m here, I recall all my good and hard times as an enlisted Sailor. I’ve swept and swabbed the decks. I’ve cleaned dishes. I’ve performed spot checks. All the obstacles I’ve had to go through as an enlisted member to get this far are all worth it now. I made it.”

Reynoso, like all of his Mustang counterparts, has seen both sides of the Navy. He served for 12 years on the enlisted side of the fleet before becoming amphibious assault ship USS Boxer (LHD 4)’s Stock Control Officer. Once he was advanced to the rank of chief petty officer, Reynoso submitted his package to become an LDO.

“I chose to be an officer because of the benefits that come with it,” said Reynoso. It goes beyond the increase in pay. I have more freedom with where I want to serve. I have more retirement benefits as well. When you look and see how many benefits there are, and you plan on staying in, you too might want to become one.”

Reynoso explained what Mustangs mean to Boxer and the Fleet itself.

“[We] mustangs are technical experts in our field,” said Reynoso. “Because I served as an enlisted Sailor, I’m able provide a great amount of expertise to my Sailors. I can say confidently that I can perform as one of the essential leaders my division needs in order for us to complete the mission. It’s all thanks to my experience.”

Chief Navy Counselor Jorge Ramirez, one of the command career counselors onboard Boxer, has been in the Navy for 19 years, seven of which have been served as a command career counselor.

“Mustangs have determination, they’re quick learners, they’re approachable and they’re aware of all the different ways to get the job done,” said Ramirez. “At the end of the day, they’re going to be the leaders of the divisions on the ship, so you want the right Sailors to get through the programs.”

Ramirez explained what he’s seen in every Sailor he’s met who has been commissioned to 0-1E, the paygrade enlisted service members are given when they become a mustang.

“A big part of the process is their dedication and determination to it,” said Ramirez, who has helped pave the way for seven individuals to reach the ranks of a naval officer. “It’s third time’s the charm’ sometimes when you submit your package.”

There are many different routes Sailors can take to become a mustang, and all of the programs are geared toward different careers paths.

“CWO and LDO are some programs that are very competitive,” said Ramirez. “OCS is a more quota-based program, so that process is a little bit easier in my opinion, but nonetheless still very demanding. What the board wants to see from applicants is a constant push to reapply and load their packages with more qualifications to improve their applications.”

“What people forget is that these programs are benefitting the Navy as well,” said Ramirez. “You’re taking an enlisted Sailor, putting them in the wardroom and allowing them to attack issues that other officers might not see or understand. They understand what Sailors are going through.”

For more news from USS Boxer (LHD 4) visit http://www.navy.mil/local/lhd4/.

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