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A Walter Reed Bethesda hospital corpsman first class was commissioned as a Navy ensign during a ceremony in the rotunda of the Tower on Feb. 1 at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center (WRNMMC).

Ensign Akakpossa Ananou was formerly HM1 Akakpossa Ananou before taking the commissioning oath from Navy Capt. Larry Ciolorito, assistant chief of the Department of Pathology and a supervisor of the new officer. Ananou applied for and was selected for direct commissioning as a medical technologist in the Medical Service Corps, Ciolorito explained. The new officer reports to Officer Development School in Newport, R.I., this week for five weeks of training, and then for an assignment at Naval Medical Center Portsmouth, Va., as a staff medical technologist, where he will likely specialize in blood banking, the captain added.

Ciolorito explained Ananou “has already lived a couple of lifetimes.” The new ensign was born in Togo, West Africa, and lived there until he was high-school age. He then lived in France, where he was a commercial pilot.

“He then won the lottery, not Powerball but the immigration lottery, and that’s how he came to the United States,” Ciolorito continued. “He joined the Navy and has had a distinguished enlisted career. He has done great service for us, and now going on to a new phase of service.”

Navy Lt. Erika Nance, a medical technologist at WRNMMC who’s also mentored Ananou, said he’s now part of a distinguished corps, the Navy Medical Service Corps, which has a long history of commissioning outstanding enlisted members into the officer ranks. She lauded Ananou for “taking it upon himself to study and advance himself further in his education,” as well as “unconditionally giving himself to his people, to the mission and to the Navy. They are recognized, and sought out for a commission.” She added he serves as an example to other enlisted Sailors who wish to achieve, and “if you dream it, you can achieve it because there are opportunities.”

Navy Capt. Frederick (Fritz) Kass, commander of Naval Support Activity Bethesda, awarded Ananou the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal for his efforts in making the base’s voting assistance program a success, an additional duty the former hospital corpsman first class volunteered for at WRNMMC.

“You can get by in the Navy doing your job very well, and get to a position [such as Ananou has], you have to extend yourself,” Kass said. “Ananou was also recognized for serving as WRNMMC transfusion services leading petty officer since October 2009. He is credited with assisting in acquisition of more than 220,000 blood draws, “critical to providing lifesaving care for thousand of critically wounded warriors and other patients.” He is also credited with being a career development advisor, “providing superb training, guidance and career support to hundreds of Soldiers and Sailors throughout the National Capital Area.”

The new ensign thanked “all those who inspired, mentored, trusted and supported” him, most with whom he’s served with at WRNMMC. “It is a privilege to serve with you all. We all have challenges, and many times, I have turned to some of you because I know I can always rely on you. I’m honored to become an officer in the United States Navy. I will strive to be the best naval officer I can possibly be.”

Concluding the ceremony and “in the spirit of integration,” Hospital Corpsman Second Class Heather Hosaflook and Army Spc. Aileen Severino gave Ananou his first salute, and following a long-standing Navy tradition, he gave each of them a silver dollar. The tradition is new naval officers buy their first salute, and then the officers earn every salute thereafter through performance and the earned respect of their subordinates.