By Navy JAG Corps Public Affairs
Two Sailors from the Navy Judge Advocate General (JAG) community earned promotions through the U.S. Navy’s Meritorious Advancement Program (MAP) in February.
Legalman 1st Class (SW/AW/IW) Tyler M. Belz and Legalman 1st Class (ESWS) Abigail G. Morgan – formerly 2nd Class Petty Officers – were both promoted to the next paygrade.
“This program is intended to give commands greater authority to better shape our Navy by developing and rewarding our best talent who is ready for the next level of responsibility,” said Master Chief Legalman Brook Larkins, senior enlisted advisor to the JAG. “Belz and Morgan competed against a competitive group and their record spoke for itself. I am very proud of both of them!”
Belz currently is stationed at Region Legal Service Office EURAFCENT, Branch Office Souda Bay, which is located in Crete, Greece. Morgan serves with U.S. 7th Fleet aboard USS Blue Ridge (LCC 19), which is homeported in Yokosuka, Japan.
Belz – who hails from Long Island, N.Y. – had been notified that he would be nominated for MAP, but was not entirely sure he’d be selected.
“I know how competitive these things are, but when we were doing a Microsoft Teams virtual team-building trivia game, the question was asked: ‘What’s the only office in our region without a Legalman 2nd Class?’” Belz recalled.
After the question was posed, his supervisor, Lt. Justin Barta, staff judge advocate at Souda Bay, presented the new uniform rank – the insignia device – for Belz’s uniform.
Belz graduated from high school in June 2009 and attended Navy Recruit Training Command (RTC) in Great Lakes, Ill., in April 2014. Following RTC, he reported to Seamanship Apprenticeship Training, which also is located in Great Lakes.
“I’ve been in the Navy for seven years, and I have never been so humbled and honored. I’m ready to meet new challenges and responsibilities of being a 1st Class Petty Officer.”
The promotions these Sailors received installs them in positions of increased responsibility. Chosen by their chains of command, their advancements are a direct result of their proven dedication and service to the Navy.
“I look forward to lead others to success in the same way my leaders have made me successful,” said Belz.
When Morgan learned she was selected by the command to receive a MAP quota, she says she was just as surprised as Belz.
Morgan – who hails from St. Louis, Mo. – described how she was notified of her promotion.
“During lunch, I was told to muster for Legal Quarters at 1300 in the Flag Conference Room. When 1300 came around, I noticed my Directorate and another were present; it was odd, but I didn’t think anything of it,” said Morgan.
In short order, her leadership, U.S. 7th Fleet Staff Command Master Chief Jeffrey Hineman, as well as Capt. Timothy Rexrode, U.S. 7th Fleet chief of staff, arrived at Legal Quarters.
“They called me front and center to receive my Junior Sailor of the Quarter award, and as I was going to walk away, Master Chief Hineman asked me to stay put. He and Capt. Rexrode then announced my selection for MAP to 1st Class Petty Office.”
In that moment, Morgan felt a wave of thoughts and emotions, which she said made her “unable to formulate any words to say out loud when they asked if I’d like to say anything.”
“When I look back on that moment, I regret being speechless because I wasn’t able to express my gratitude to those who were and were not present in that room that day; its because of others’ leadership, guidance, and support that I have been able to accomplish all my achievements,” said Morgan. “Since promoting, I feel like some things have changed, but at the same time, some things have stayed the same. While more is required of me now, I am still learning what it means to be a 1st Class Petty Officer and growing into that.”
MAP was instituted by the Navy in July 2015, replacing the Navy’s Command Advancement Program. According to Navy Personnel Command, MAP authorizes commanding officers (COs) to advance eligible enlisted personnel to the next higher paygrade.