Marine gunny to pin on as Navy ensign

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Cmdr. Charles Hampton, executive officer of the destroyer Donald Cook, gives instructions to Gunnery Sgt. Bathvill Valtin as he conns the ship during a replenishment at sea. Cook is leaving the Marine Corps for the Navy after being offered a commission there. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Adam Austin/Released)

Cmdr. Charles Hampton, executive officer of the destroyer Donald Cook, gives instructions to Gunnery Sgt. Bathvill Valtin as he conns the ship during a replenishment at sea. Cook is leaving the Marine Corps for the Navy after being offered a commission there. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Adam Austin/Released)

Sailors are about to get a taste of what like to have a Marine gunny as their leader.

Since the day Gunnery Sgt. Sgt Bothvill Valcin met a commissioned officer at boot camp in 2000, he thought about going mustang. After 13 years in the Corps, a college degree, deployments to the Middle East and Asia, and working with special operations units, something was still missing from the gunny’s life: his commission.

The Marine Corps gave him a lot of opportunities, he said, according to a Marine Corps news release. Just not the chance to become an officer, despite several applications.

But the Navy did. So the gunny is jumping ship  — or onto a ship. He’s joining the Navy.

“I know that starting off as an ensign, or a second lieutenant in the Marine Corps, is not the top of the totem pole,” Valcin said, according to the release. “But I know the position that I’m in can really influence other service members the same way officers in my life have made a tremendous difference on me.”

Valcin recently embarked on the destroyer Donald Cook to shadow surface warfare officers as he works towards his commission, the release states. Despite their friendly rivalry, Valcin said he doesn’t feel like he’s starting in a new branch.

“What I’ve seen here in my two weeks here is that, yes, we’re different branches, but we’re on the same mission,” he said. “My goal is to go as far as the Navy will take me.”

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32 Comments

  1. Congrats Gunny! I went through OCS in Pensacola FL. I have nothing but mad respect for my GYSGT. You have a wealth of knowledge that you can share with the other Naval Officers. I see great things in your future! Best of luck in your future as a fellow Naval Officer! Semper Fi Marine!

  2. Congratulations Gunny I hope it is as satisfying as your rise to gunny was. Welcome to the sea service the USNavy has just become that much better. Fair Winds and Following Seas

  3. This is awesome, I’m glad you found way to fill in that empty space in your career. Best of luck to you GYSGT or Sir hope to see you in the fleet! Hooyah!

  4. It amazes and horrifies me that the Corps continues to lose seasoned and well qualified NCO’s and SNCO’s to other services just so we can give dumb as rock college kids the slots to go to OSC. I have never meet a bad mustang but I have meet plenty of useless and stupid officers who come in straight from college. When I wa EAS’ing as a Sgt I was told the wait would be 2-3 years just to get a slot if I applied but I could have gone into any of the other branches and gotten a full commission the next day. And I had lots of my friends, all in MOS’s that were critically short, that did just that…

  5. “Sailors are about to get a taste of what like to have a Marine gunny as their leader.”

    Hopefully not. An Ensign and a Gunnery Sergeant have very different roles and should have very different leadership styles.

  6. Congrats Gunny. Semper Fi and Fair Winds and Following Seas. May your knowledge and experience help advance you in your career. I wish the Corps would have accepted your request for a Commission. However, thank you for still serving our Great Country. May you long help train our newer generations of our military with such resolve. Semper Fi again brother.

  7. Congratulations, I applied for BOOST and for an unknown reason, was turned down. My dream to be a Naval officer never came true for me…and unknown. I envy you and good luck on your new venture!

  8. Ok, maybe I’m a minority here I know it, however I couldn’t leave my beloved Corps (especially as a GySgt) behind and become an Ensign in the Navy. I fully 100% realize that GySgt probably has legit/personal reasons for doing this, but I just couldn’t.

    As a retired Marine Gunnery Sergeant I wish you all the luck dealing with your shipmates there former Devil Dawg.

  9. “Wooden ships, Iron men….Iron ships, Wooden men…the GYSTG shall provide the Iron needed in spite of “low” rank

  10. Congrats Gunny on your (soon to be ) promotion to Ensign. The Marine Corps sure as hellm failed to take advantage of your skills/leadership.

    BTW AO2, Fraser the Marine corps has always been a sea service

  11. First off, Congrats Brother!! Great Decision The Corp is not the only show in town. Like you I too was a Marine GySgt with 16+ years that also wanted to be a Marine Officer. Turns out in the Corps eyes I was too old to go to OCS and too senior to be a WO, however the Navy welcomed me with arms wide opened and haven’t looked back since. It’s been a year since my commsion I don’t regret any of it. My love and gratitude for the Corp will never wane, its what made me who I am today but not what will define me in the future in my new career as a Naval Officer. Congrats and Semper FI.

  12. I’m extremely happy for you. I too was a SNCO after over 11 years of service and became a commissioned officer back in 2011 in the Corps. Best decision I’ve ever made. Your experience will afford you the privilege to become a more well-rounded leader. Don’t listen to any negativity that may come your way from any peers. They have a hidden jealousy that they will most likely never admit to.

  13. Congrats GySgt. As a former Marine thanks for serving. But the Marine Corps is not the only game in town. Best of luck and do great things.

  14. Keith Brownmiller on

    Best wishes on the switch from green to white. While I hate to admit it I served under several mustangs and WOs that had forgotten their roots and I pray that you Sir take what your LCPOs and LPOs tell so that you can excell and not discard their advice.

    Had a shot at commission very early in my career, but have come to believe that retiring as a Gunny was the best move ever.

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