Veterans Day

NAS Fallon welcomes first female command master chief

Knight left the mountains, but now the mountains beckon her back

Command Master Chief Katherine Knight is the first female to occupy that position at Naval Air Station Fallon.

Command Master Chief Katherine Knight is the first female to occupy that position at Naval Air Station Fallon.
Photo by Steve Ranson.

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Her life was spent overseas and on ship, but as this sailor’s career begins to wind down, the mountains are beckoning her to return.
Command Master Chief Katherine Knight arrived at Naval Air Station Fallon to begin, what she calls, her dream job. A native of Steamboat Springs, Colo., the first female CMC at Fallon comes from a third-generation military family. She’s as enthusiastic about her new assignment as she is about her career that’s spanned for more than 30 years. Being in Fallon, she also sees the mountains which were part of her early years in Colorado.
“I joined the Navy to get away from that,” she recalls of growing up in Steamboat Springs. “It’s amazing how the mountains call for you … the way the air smells and tastes. I can see the horizon.”
Knight envisions that setting when she leaves the Navy. She enlisted in 1990 in her mid-20s after receiving an Associate of Arts degree before the nation’s economy soured and slid into an eight-month recession.
“The country was in a rough spot,” she said.
Knight turned to her parents, who met when her father served in the Navy. He spent his time as a journalist, while her grandfather was a navigator. Based on her family discussions, she decided to enlist in a career that took her to multiple countries and back to the states for her final two tours that also included her first assignment as a command master chief for Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 2 at Naval Station Norfolk (Virginia). Before heading to Norfolk, she was a master-at arms for 16 years.
“I enjoyed it. It was great,” she said of her master-at arms career. I was stationed as an MA (master-at arms ) in the states, and also in Greece, Italy and Japan.”
Knight said she enjoyed being an MA, but her goal was to become a master chief.
When Knight took her first assignment aboard a salvage ship at Pearl Harbor, she trained and then served in damage control, which is firefighting and preventing accidents. She left the Navy in 1999 and joined the U.S. Naval Reserve while finishing her degree in electrical engineering. After the terrorist bombings against the World Trade Center and the Pentagon in 2001, the Navy mobilized Knight to active duty and sent her to Norfolk. Her career eventually took her to Subic Bay in the Philippines, Japan, Naples and stateside.
“I could’ve stayed overseas for the rest of my life,” Knight said.
While in Japan, Knight said she stayed in a traditional Japanese home and blended into the community. She said it was important to see and absorb the culture. Knight added Japan was one of the cleanest, safest places she has lived. She liked the big harbor at Subic Bay and traveled around Europe when she lived in Naples. With her travels in Europe, Knight said she saw Mount Vesuvius, and drove on the German autobahn, she skied both the French and Italian sides of the Alps and describes how she climbed Mounts Vesuvius and Fuji.
When moving to Fallon, she and her mother, who now lives with her since Knight’s father died, drove out to Fallon from the East Coast. They were fascinated with the Grand Canyon.
“I’ve done some amazing things,” Knight said. “I’ve been all over the world, but I haven’t seen a much of America as I want to see. You work hard so you can play hard.”
While she touts seeing the world, Knight shows equal passion in what the Navy offers to its sailors. She said sailors are able to do a job they love and excel.
“You can pick your jobs,” she said. “There are so many opportunities, and you see the world. You have to understand the mission of the Navy, take a chance, take a leap, see the world, and then you’ll have a lot of sea stories to tell.”
Knight said one of the career paths at Fallon and at other installations is aviation mechanics. She said the career is also one of the best secrets in the Navy. She reiterated that becoming command master chief in Fallon has been her dream. Although she ensures the discipline and morale among the enlisted ranks is high, she said the Navy is more than receiving or giving orders, shining boots or getting a haircut.
“It’s what you get out of it,” she said. “It’s indescribable.”


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