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Navy SEAL taking reins as fleet master chief will be a first

Derrick Walters (U.S. Navy/Released)

A Navy SEAL will become a fleet master chief for the first time in the service’s history this spring when Master Chief Petty Officer Derrick Walters takes the post at Naval Forces Europe and Africa.

Walters, now the force master chief for Naval Special Warfare headquarters in Coronado, Calif., will replace retiring Master Chief Petty Officer Raymond Kemp, who has been fleet master chief since August 2016.

“He (Walters) is a proven leader who brings a tremendous and very unique wealth of experience and will advocate for our sailors and their families serving overseas,” said Adm. James Foggo, Naval Forces Europe and Africa commander, in a statement.

Born in Atlantic City, N.J., in 1969 and raised in New York City, Walters initially struggled to pass the SEAL entry test because of his poor swimming skills on his first two attempts at boot camp in Orlando, Fla., according to a Navy profile published in 2015.

“There I was doggy paddling. And the guys had already done one lap and I had only moved 20 yards. I said this is not good. When the time had elapsed I had only gone 100 yards so I did not pass,” Walters said of the 500-meter swim test. “I crushed everyone else at the other events.”

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Eventually he passed even the swimming portion. After intelligence specialist school in Virginia Beach, Va., he completed Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL training, graduating in 1988.

Walters served with SEAL Teams 2 and 8, and was later operations and command master chief for SEAL Team 2 and senior enlisted advisor for Naval Special Warfare’s Group 2 training detachment. Based in Little Creek, Va., NSW Group 2, the East Coast component of the Naval Special Warfare Command, concentrates geographically on Europe, Africa, the Atlantic and South America. SEAL Teams 2 and 8, deployable squadrons of the Navy’s elite troops, fall under NSW Group 2.

Walters also served as command master chief at the Naval Special Warfare Center in Coronado and was the senior enlisted leader at NATO special operations in Belgium.

Kemp, whom Walters will replace, joined the Navy in 1986 as a data processing technician.

He has done combat deployments in the 5th, 6th and 7th fleet theaters, including operations Enduring Freedom, Iraqi Freedom, Southern Watch, New Dawn and Desert Storm.

He served as command master chief aboard the USS Mason and USS Harry S. Truman, and at the Navy Inspector General’s office.

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