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News | Aug. 26, 2022

Master Chief shapes leaders, leaving military members of the year in his wake

By Marshall Smith Headquarters USMEPCOM

True leaders always hope to see their people achieve more than they did, but they don’t always get the satisfaction of seeing that success come to fruition.

For Master Chief Adam Singleton, former Honolulu MEPs senior enlisted advisor (SEA), confirmation came when Senior Chiefs Brandon Majors, Ft. Jackson MEPS SEA, and Ioana Wolfinger, New Orleans MEPS SEA, respectively became the Eastern and Western Sector military members of the year.

Singleton was promoted to master chief in 2019 while with USMEPCOM and left Honolulu in January 2020 to become the command master chief on USS Carter Hall (LSD 50). Onboard the ship, Majors led the repair division and the damage control training team, and Wolfinger led the medical department and medical training team.

“As a CMC, I rely heavily on my Senior Chiefs to ensure Sailors are taken care of and we are meeting the CO’s intent to deploy safely and complete our mission,” said Singleton. “Both were literally my go-to senior chiefs for not only their departments, but for the entire ship.”

Wolfinger put in her retirement package while assigned to USS Carter Hall, but it was denied. Instead, she applied to the command program and was accepted.

“Deep down inside I knew I wasn’t finished. I still had so much more I wanted to accomplish,” said Wolfinger. “I was inspired and knew that I could do so much more for the Sailors and figured if my retirement was denied, then I’m all in. CMC [Singleton] was not at all surprised at my decision to submit for a Command package.”

Majors and Wolfinger were selected for command senior chief while assigned to USS Carter Hall and attributed part of their decision to come to USMEPCOM to Singleton, who recommends the command as an opportunity to understand the accessions pipeline.

Singleton made sure to to prepare the two senior chiefs for their future role as senior enlisted advisors.

“CMC was always available to ask questions, provide guidance and once CMDCS [Majors] and I were selected into the program, he would bring us in on many decisions/scenarios to get our brains to start working out issues at the command level and how we would approach situations,” said Wolfinger.

That preparation paid off as demonstrated by the sailors’ selection as MMOY for their sectors. USMEPCOM is a joint command with uniformed personnel from all the services. Majors is proud to stand alongside Wolfinger as Sector winner not just because of their history but as sailors.

“I think it’s pretty cool that CMDCS Wolfinger and I were forwarded this opportunity to represent the Navy in a joint command,” said Majors. “She and I have the same leadership style and command mindset to ensure ALL sailors are trained, qualified and promoting here at USMEPCOM.”

For Singleton, it was obvious that these two sailors would succeed at USMEPCOM.

“There’s nothing I can say that would give justice to their hard work. They won because they put others before themselves,” he said. “The result of that is their selection as the MMOY for their sectors. I always told them if they took care of their people first, their Sailors and MEPS staff successes would be their success.”

That two high-performing sailors would both have worked under Singleton was also unsurprising to Cmdr. Gina Becker, current Western Sector deputy commander and former Honolulu MEPS commander alongside Singleton.

“Having both of them win confirmed what I already knew, he is a great leader who helps develop great leaders,” said Becker. “Knowing him, he will refuse any credit associated with their victories and just be happy for them. CMC Singleton, was everything a Commander hopes for in a SEA and more. He always led by example, was fair, and would tell me what he thought, not what he thought I wanted to hear. He took care of our team, was continually humble and always seeking self-improvement “

The three chiefs were close aboard the USS Carter Hall, leading hundreds of sailors through the pandemic and deployments. On one deployment to Bahrain, the three worked to support the civilian evacuation from Afghanistan. Over a ten-day period they built tents and provided medical and other assistance to families waiting on flights, said Singleton.

The final competition for USMEPCOM military member of the year will be held in September. Now these former shipmates become competitors. Only time will tell the winner.