August 10, 2015 --
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Naval Hospital Jacksonville, Florida, Command Master Chief Bennora Simmons retired from the Navy after 30 years of honest and faithful service at a ceremony, July 31, at All Saints Chapel aboard Naval Air Station Jacksonville.
About 150 family members, friends and shipmates attended the ceremony to honor and bid fair winds and following seas to Simmons, whose naval career began September 1985 and will come to an end September 2015.
“Command Master Chief Simmons was a phenomenal leader and loyal advocate for all sailors,” Capt. John Le Favour, NH Jacksonville commanding officer. “She epitomizes our Navy Core Values of honor, courage and commitment. On behalf of all those you served and those who have served you, I thank you for your wise counsel, sage advice and friendship. We wish you well on your next journey in life.”
Simmons, a native of Charleston, South Carolina, began her military career at Recruit Training Center Orlando, Florida, for basic training. Upon graduation she attended Air Traffic Controller “A” School in Memphis, Tennessee.
In 1986, Simmons reported to her first shore duty assignment (as an air traffic controller) at NAS Sigonella, Italy. Subsequent shore duty assignments include NAS Chase Field Beeville, Texas; Naval Technical Training Center Pensacola, Florida. (laterally converting to the rate of Cryptologic Technician, Collection); Naval Security Group Activity Galeta Island, Panama; NSGA Augsburg, Germany; Center for Naval Leadership Mayport, Florida.; Navy Information Operations Center Kunia, Hawaii; Naval Air Facility Atsugi, Japan; and NH Jacksonville, Florida.
Simmons’ sea duty assignments include Pre-Commissioning Unit 80 (USS Roosevelt); USS John F. Kennedy (CV 67); and Strike Fighter Squadron One Zero Two aboard USS Kitty Hawk (CV 63) and USS George Washington (CVN 73).
“It has been an absolute pleasure to have been a part of Naval Hospital Jacksonville, taking care of our nation’s heroes and assuring them that their families are safe and well taken care of whenever they are deployed,” Simmons said. “Never would I have made it to 30 years of naval service without shipmates like you, who stuck with me through the good and bad times. And if I was able to positively influence at least one sailor in my career, then I know I made a difference.”
Simmons reported for the first of her three command master chief assignments with the Diamondbacks of Strike Fighter Squadron 102) in October 2007. In August 2011, she reported for her final command master chief assignment at NH Jacksonville, continuing her legacy of mentoring sailors and contributing to the command’s mission of providing high-quality, safe, patient-centered care to all those entrusted to NH Jacksonville.
Capt. John Le Favour, the ceremony's presiding officer, presented Simmons with the Meritorious Service Medal for superior performance as NH Jacksonville’s command master chief from August 2011 to August 2015.
“I learned more from Command Master Chief Simmons in a two-year period than I have from any one person in my 13-year naval career,” Hospital Corpsman 1st Class Chelaya Bartlett, former executive assistant to Simmons and current Naval Medical Center San Diego orthopedic department leading petty officer, said. “She also taught me to have pride in the Navy and our heritage and to make sure I instill that in each Sailor I come in contact with.”
The ceremony concluded with a retirement flag folding and presentation with the recitation of "Old Glory" by retired Command Master Chief Randy Pringle, recitation of "The Watch" by Command Master Chief Herbert Ellis, and the reading of the Chief Petty Officer Retirement Creed by Command Master Chief Robert Burton. Then Simmons was piped ashore for the last time by honors boatswain retired Master Chief Boatswains Mate David Connor.
Simmons was also presented with a traditional shadow box, by NH Jacksonville’s Chief Petty Officer’s Mess, filled with personal awards and military keepsakes that will serve as a remembrance of her naval career.
Command Master Chief Patrick Campbell, a native of Durham, N.C., has now assumed the senior enlisted position from Simmons. Campbell reported to NH Jacksonville from Patrol Squadron Eight, located at NAS Jacksonville, where he also served as command master chief.