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Shadows' hat trick: Three Tinker senior chiefs promoted to Navy's highest enlisted rank

Joshua Beloncik, Eric Samek and Larry Kutnock were all recently promoted to master chief petty officer, the Navy’s highest enlisted rank, a feat only achieved by 13.8 percent of eligible senior chiefs this year. (Air Force photo by Kelly White)

Joshua Beloncik, Eric Samek and Larry Kutnock were all recently promoted to master chief petty officer, the Navy’s highest enlisted rank, a feat only achieved by 13.8 percent of eligible senior chiefs this year. (Air Force photo by Kelly White)

TINKER AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. -- Three Navy senior chiefs from a single Tinker AFB squadron were recently promoted to the highest enlisted rank, something only 13.8 percent of more than 3,000 eligible senior chiefs achieved this year.

The annual Active-Duty Navy E9 Selection Board announced in May the promotions of Larry Kutnock, 41, Eric Samek, 36, and Josh Beloncik, 35, to master chief petty officer. The Sailors serve with Strategic Communications Wing One, aka Take Charge and Move Out or TACAMO.

"It is with pride that TACAMO can state that the senior chiefs selected for master chief have had a career of 'going the extra mile' -- mission-focused shipmates who are true deckplate leaders," TACAMO Command Master Chief Cynthia Patterson said.

"True to their character, these ideals resulted in a board of their peers selecting them to their current pay grade -- the top 1 percent of the enlisted ranks," she said.

Until recently, all three master chiefs served with the approximately 400-member Fleet Air Reconnaissance Squadron FOUR "Shadows" Squadron; Master Chief Beloncik now serves with VQ-3 "Ironman" Squadron.

For fiscal year 2015, 3,004 senior chiefs vied for 396 promotions, according to Navy Personnel Command. The board chooses the "best and fully qualified" Sailors regardless of where they are stationed.

The Shadows scored a 100 percent promotion rate as Chiefs Kutnock, Samek and Beloncik were the squadron's only senior chiefs up for promotion.

The new master chief petty officers credited wing and squadron leadership for playing key roles in their advancement. Master Chief Kutnock is an avionics technician. Master Chiefs Samek and Beloncik are aircraft maintenancemen.

"A lot has to do with our mentors and our leaders putting us into positions and basically looking at our whole package as a Sailor and identifying what's missing and how to fulfill those requirements," Master Chief Kutnock said.

Master Chief Samek added, "They provide opportunities for sailors to succeed. I think all three of us have taken advantage of the opportunities we've had."

Master Chief Kutnock advised other Sailors looking for advancement to "never be satisfied."

"You have to always challenge yourself, challenge your peers and challenge your subordinates," he said. "None of us are here because of stuff that we did. It's our Sailors and our mentors."