U.S. Navy officer celebrates new rank with friends, family

A Jefferson City native was pinned with a new U.S. Navy rank during a close-knit ceremony Monday at the Capitol.

About 30 people packed into Lt. Gov. Mike Kehoe’s office to watch as Alan Carl Mengwasser was pinned with the captain’s rank.

Surrounded by friends and family, Mengwasser, 48, dispensed with a lot of the formality associated with commissioning ceremonies.

After a brief prayer, the Pledge of Allegiance and a story about joining the Navy, Mengwasser’s wife and daughters added the brass to his uniform.

“You may salute,” he teased attending friends and family, who replied with resounding applause.

“It’s just fun to do it here, rather than back on the base in Maryland,” Mengwasser told the News Tribune. “My friends there would do it, but it’s just too hard to get the home crowd out there.”

Monday was the first time most of Mengwasser’s family, besides his wife and three children, had seen him get pinned throughout his 26-year naval career. Mengwasser said only his parents attended basic training graduation and officer candidate school graduation.

After learning in September he would be eligible for a promotion Dec. 15, he saw an opportunity to add to his usual visit home for the holidays.

“Considering they haven’t been able to attend any previous promotions, it’s just a great opportunity that we could celebrate this together,” he said.

In addition to family, several of Mengwasser’s high school friends were present for the ceremony.

State Rep. Dave Griffith, R-Jefferson City, helped organize the ceremony in Kehoe’s office. The lieutenant governor was not on hand but approved the use of his office as the rest of the Capitol was closed for the observed holiday.

“It’s the perfect setting for it, and it’s just really a special time, especially this time of year, to be able to recognize some of the unique accomplishments that we have right here in Jeff City,” Griffith said, adding he’s known the family for years.

Mengwasser has worked on Navy submarines and ships and was deployed to Afghanistan in the past. For the past 12 years, he’s been involved in the cyber warfare arena.

Stationed out of Fort Meade in Maryland, Mengwasser is a cryptologic warfare officer focused on cyber security and…