Warrior of the Week: DC1 Floresdiaz has sights on Navy career

Story and photo by MC2 (SW) Mark Logico

Navy Region Hawaii Public Affairs

A Hawaii-based petty officer thought he would get out of the Navy because of Perform-to-Serve (PTS), but when he was selected for the next rank he said it felt like something heavy fell off his back.

Damage Controlman 1st Class (SW) Hector Floresdiaz, who is an instructor and course manager assigned to the Center for Naval Engineering Learning Site Pearl Harbor (CNE LS PH), has been in the Navy for more than nine years. During his military career, he has served aboard USS Kitty Hawk (CV 63) in Japan and USS Emory S. Land (AS 39) in Italy.

Initially, Floresdiaz did not worry about PTS. He had five consecutive “early promote” recommendations in his evaluation and fitness reports. He recently returned from an individual augmenteed eployment to Iraq.

As one of the top instructors at the CNE LS PH, Floresdiaz earned praise from his chain of command causing him to relax during the PTS process.

According to Naval Personnel Command, PTS is designed to help the Navy keep the best and brightest Sailors while shaping the Navy force to meet future requirements. Sailors E6 and below with less than 14 years in the Navy must apply for a PTS quota to re-enlist. Using Fleet RIDE (Rating Identification Engine), Sailors are given the option to choose to stay in-rate or convert to a different rating. The number of available quotas is different for every rate and rating and changes every month based on needs of the Navy and status of current inventory.

Unfortunately for Floresdiaz, he was not awarded one quota up to his last look on May 2011.

“When they told me no, I was worried,” said Floresdiaz. “I told my career counselor to put me in for whatever rate available, I don’t care, so long as it keeps my foot in the door. So on the last one, the sixth one came in. They said, “‘no,you didn’t get accepted.’ ”

“That’s when it hit me, I’m out,” said Floresdiaz. “It was horrible, man. Nobody expected that. I guess it’s because I don’t have the right NEC (Navy enlisted classification code). I guess I didn’t make first class fast enough. I tried to stay positive, even though I was going to get kicked out.”

Dejected, Floresdiaz began making plans for life outside the military. He opted to join the Reserves so as to keep a foot in the door.

“The hardest part was where we were going to live,” said Floresdiaz. “I was from California, but I didn’t want to go back. If I had a choice, if I knew a year out that I was getting out, I would start a year out to go look for a place, choose a state where I want to stay. But with such short notice, we were scrambling just to get anything, any job anywhere. Unfortunately, for me, even though I have almost nine years of fire fighting experience, it didn’t help me get a job out there as a fire fighter. Anything you do out there, you got to have a degree somehow,” he explained.

Toward the end of May, Floresdiaz’s leading chief petty officer, Chief Damage Controlman Tommy Thompson, encouraged Floresdiaz to look at his profile sheet which contained the results of his last advancement cycle.

“When I saw the word ‘selected,’ I did not understand,” said Floresdiaz. “I was two weeks away from taking terminal leave. Everybody kept telling me to look at my profile sheet. I said I’m not going to look at it. What for? It doesn’t matter. I didn’t want to even pay attention to that.”

After seeing the word ‘selected’ in his profile sheet, Floresdiaz said his chief began calling several people, including at Naval Personnel Command, to confirm the advancement and the possibility for Floresdiaz to stay in the Navy.

Later, Floresdiaz and Thompson received an email with an attached memorandum from Rear Adm. Anthony Kurta, the director of military personnel plans and policy, stating that inrate quotas will be granted to qualified Sailors advanced via Navy-wide advancement exam within 12 months of separation.

“It was like something heavy just fell off my back,” said Floresdiaz. “It was like I was carrying a rock, and then all of a sudden the rock was not there.”

Relieved, Floresdiaz began preparations for his re-enlistment for the maximum of six years in the Navy. He is scheduled to reenlist on July 19.

“Don’t think that just because you’re a great Sailor and you follow all the rules that means you are going to stay in,” said Floresdiaz. “My advice to other personnel is for you to get your ASVAB score higher. Study for the test if you still have that time because it does make a difference.”

Today, Floresdiaz said he hopes to continue his career in the Navy to complete his full 20 years before retiring. He hopes to return to Japan and one day earn a degree.

“I definitely want to thank the top management. If it wasn’t for their support, I would have went crazy during this time. They gave me all the time I needed to take care of the things I needed to take care of. They were behind my back and making sure I was okay. Every Sailor needs that. Every Sailor needs their chain-of-command to be behind them because, if not, it doesn’t work.”

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Category: Warrior of the Week