WASHINGTON -- Actor, humanitarian and musician, Gary Sinise, was named an honorary chief petty officer during a ceremony held at the United States Navy Memorial and Naval Heritage Center Aug. 24.
Sinise received the honor from Fleet Master Chief(AW/NAC) Michael D. Stevens on behalf of Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy(MCPON)(SS/SW) Rick D. West. Stevens was named as the next MCPON by Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) Jonathan Greenert June 27.
"It is very interesting how things work out and I believe that all things happen for a reason," said Stevens. "MCPON was going to honor Mr. Sinise at the 'Year of the Chief' kickoff event in April, but unfortunately Mr. Sinise was slightly injured in a car accident here in D.C. and was unable to attend the event. Thankfully, he was not seriously injured and MCPON is on a trip overseas visiting Sailors, so now I have the opportunity to preside over this event tonight."
Sinise has been exposed to the military all of his life through his family's deep roots in military service. His father served in the Navy in the 1950s, two of his uncles served in World War II, three brother-in-laws served in Vietnam, his sister-in-law served for 10 years, and his nephew served in Afghanistan and was recently accepted into the Green Berets.
While not serving in the military himself, Sinise has raised millions of dollars for various charities dedicated to helping the military and veterans through his Gary Sinise Foundation launched in 2010. He has also performed free concerts all over the world for servicemembers with his 'Lt. Dan Band,' named after his role in the 1994 Oscar-winning movie "Forrest Gump."
"I am a big fan of your work as an actor, but I am an even bigger fan of the role you play in real life," said Stevens. "And it is that body of work that we honor here today."
Stevens presented Sinise with the honorary chief petty officer certificate signed by MCPON, while his daughter, Ella, pinned the chief's anchor on his lapel. Stevens helped Sinise don a chief's cover, which was followed by a salute to the crowd by honorary Chief Sinise, bringing the large crowd of chief petty officers, chief petty officer selectees, Sailors, families and the general public to their feet in a standing ovation.
"What a humbling day it is for me to receive this," said Sinise. I'm truly touched by it. I don't take it for granted, and I don't take it lightly."
The cornerstone of Sinise's foundation was built upon his life-long principals and long standing commitment to be a citizen of action, and to help in any way that one can to serve the nation by honoring and helping the people who serve our country.
"I'm always amazed and humbled at the skill and dedication of the men and women who serve in our Navy ...God bless you all for doing what you do in defense of our freedom all around the world," said Sinise.