Promoted Navy officer wearing the same shoes as 26 years ago

A newly minted commander in the navy appears to have put his own spin on the old saying that “you can never walk twice in the same river”. On August 31, Lt. Cmdr. Miles Alvarez was promoted to commander aboard an MH-60S Nighthawk helicopter 1,000 feet above the Adriatic Sea while wearing the same black, polished shoes given to him as a young sailor entering training recruits 26 years ago.

In the quarter century that has elapsed since his arrival in Recruit Training Command in Illinois, Alvarez rose through the ranks of the Navy, became an officer, and served in various positions and positions throughout the service. But if you had told him that in the early 1990s, he might not have believed you. At the time, the Los Angeles native said he was struggling to make ends meet, pay for college and save for the future, according to a recent Navy report by Petty Officer 3rd Class Richard Rodgers.

Alvarez was looking for something that would get him out of Los Angeles “and onto more stable ground,” the press release said. Fortunately, he found inspiration in his own family. Alvarez’s grandfather was a former Army paratrooper and Korean War veteran who exuded discipline even in his old age.

“He was in his 60s when I lived with him, and he still followed a regular workout routine before bed with push-ups, sit-ups, squats and dumbbells,” Alvarez said. “He shined his shoes, always ironed his clothes, shaved and made his bed every day, and always kept his room very tidy. He attributed his discipline to the army and I liked that, even when I was a kid.

Cmdt. Miles Alvarez, assigned to the George HW Bush Carrier Strike Group (GHWBCSG), is promoted to commander during a promotion ceremony aboard an MH-60S Nighthawk helicopter attached to Helicopter Marine Combat Squadron (HSC) 5 , August 31, 2022 (Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Stuart Posada/US Navy)

Along with the promise of discipline, Alvarez said he sees the military as a means to a steady income, an opportunity for growth, and a sense of serving a greater purpose. He joined the Navy in November 1996 as a seaman recruit, at the very bottom of the ranks, where he became a crypto technician, a job that involves intercepting signals to provide tactical intelligence and strategic, according to the Navy.

Although he started at the bottom, the ambitious Alvarez had high hopes. Within a few years, he began to apply for the commission as an officer.

“Earning a commission has always been a goal of mine ever since I learned it was an option,” he said.

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It was good that Alvarez was so committed to his goal because it would be a long wait before he could achieve his dream. At first, when he attained the rank of petty officer second class, the sailor applied for the enlisted commissioning program, now known as the Seaman-to-Admiral program. The program has helped many Sailors earn their commissions over the years, including Rear Adm. Matthew Burns, a former enlisted SEAL who pinned his first Admiral’s Star in 2020. Another notable alumnus is Lt. Cmdr. Jonny Kim, a former enlisted SEAL who served in command, later went to Harvard Medical School and is now a NASA astronaut.

However, Alvarez’s enthusiasm was not enough to earn him a spot in the Seaman-to-Admiral program. Later, after graduating with a bachelor’s degree and becoming a petty officer first class, he also unsuccessfully applied to the officer candidate school. Several attempts later, after Alvarez became chief petty officer, he finally earned his limited duty officer commission on November 1, 2008.

Rear Adm. Dennis Velez, commander, Carrier Strike Group 10, George HW Bush Carrier Strike Group (GHWBCSG), left, dresses Cmdr. Miles Alvarez, assigned to GHWBCSG, during a promotion ceremony celebrating Alvarez’s promotion to the rank of commander, Aug. 31, 2022 (Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Stuart Posada/US Navy)

With a new rank and new responsibilities on his shoulders, Alvarez continued to serve in a wide range of information warfare roles on a Wasp-class amphibious assault ship; at Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, Washington; at the Naval Personnel Command; and at the Stennis Space Center in Mississippi.

Nowadays, Alvarez is the embedded fires officer aboard the aircraft carrier USS George HW Bush, part of Carrier Strike Group 10.

The new commander received his silver oak leaves from Rear Adm. Dennis Velez, commander of Carrier Strike Group 10. Although Alvarez has achieved great heights both figuratively and literally, since being promoted while on a helicopter 1,000 feet above water , he hasn’t forgotten his roots, represented by the shoes he received long ago in Illinois during rookie training.

Alvarez’s story seems to touch on two of the most important lessons the military teaches service members: be persistent and wear proper footwear. If this commander is any proof, these two lessons can take you a long way.

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