ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. -- "It's the top of the mountain."
That's how one person described Marine Corps Chief Warrant Officer 5 Sase Singh's promotion Friday at the National Museum of the Marine Corps, Quantico, Va. Singh is the Marine Corps Chemical Biological Radiological and Nuclear Explosives Planner at the Joint Elimination Coordination Element, was promoted to chief warrant officer 5, the highest rank a warrant officer can achieve.
In February 1992, the Marine Corps was authorized the rank of chief warrant officer 5 and only five percent of all Marine Corps warrant officers are screened to reach the top level. The Marine Corps looks specifically for field expertise and background training.
"Obviously, they've done a very good job in selecting Chief Warrant Officer Singh for this promotion," said retired Marine Corps Lt. Col. John J. O'Leary, who led the promotion ceremony.
O'Leary has known Singh since the 1980s and said he is extremely proud of Singh and noted his family's continued support.
"This promotion is a credit to you (the family), as you have supported him throughout his assignments," O'Leary said.
Marine Corps Inspector General Maj. Gen. David Garza, who was deployed with Singh, said he is not surprised that Singh was promoted to chief warrant officer 5.
"He is a tremendous team player and intellectually gifted," Garza said. "I'm proud to call him my friend and my battle buddy."
During his promotion speech, Singh, originally from Queens, N.Y., thanked everyone for attending.
"Every service is represented here and my family is here," he said. "I couldn't imagine a better crowd."
Singh also took a moment to recognize the servicemembers who have given their lives for the country and he left two empty chairs in the audience as a symbol of those killed in action.
"For every one of us who serve, there are those who have served," Singh said.
Singh described the beginning of his Marine Corps career and told the audience that, after fulfilling his first contract obligation, he left active duty and continued as a reservist. With the help of a friend, Singh once again joined active duty service.
"I was right back home where I belong," he said. "Without all of you, I wouldn't be here today."
Starting his career in 1984, Singh attended 22 schools as an enlisted Marine, including the Jungle Warfare School in Panama, and was meritoriously promoted to corporal and staff sergeant before eventually rising to the rank of gunnery sergeant. Since 2000, when he was selected for warrant officer, he attended 11 more schools, as well as professional education. Singh deployed to Desert Shield and Desert Storm, twice to Iraq and most recently, to Afghanistan. Singh arrived onboard the JECE on Aberdeen Proving Ground's Edgewood Area August 2011. Part of the U.S. Strategic Command, the JECE provides operational level planning, command and control expertise, and coordinates joint training and exercises for Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) elimination missions in support of combatant commander requirements. The JECE is co-located with the headquarters of the 20th Support Command (CBRNE).
Marine Corps Sgt. Maj. Robert Clark, who has known Singh since 1987 and helped get Singh back on active duty, also attended the promotion and pinned the rank on Singh. The two Marines have deployed together and in the beginning of their careers, drove cross-country with their families to report to a new assignment.
"He is the type of guy anyone can talk to and feel comfortable around, regardless of rank," Clark said. "The Marine Corps has hit a grand slam, a homerun, by promoting him."