The meaning of Mustang

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Officer Michael J. Orton, Jr. is the son of Michael Orton of Franklin, Tennessee and Janet Orton of Woodbury, Tennessee. Orton is a 2003 graduate of Dekalb County High School and has been accepted in the United States Navy Enlisted Commissioning Program. Senior Chief Petty Officer Orton will become a Navy Limited Duty Officer, embarking on his new career as a Commissioned Officer as an Ensign.

A distinguished ceremony will be held to mark this event on July 27th, 2017, at Tuna Harbor Park in San Diego, California. In the Navy, an Officer who has been promoted up from the ranks of Navy enlisted personnel through an in-service procurement program, with no interruption of his/her active duty status, is a Mustang.

It is also understood that the Mustang Officer was a career Sailor, and normally wears one or more Good Conduct Medals. Thus, the Navy Mustang is either a Navy Limited Duty Officer (LDO), a Chief Warrant Officer (CWO), or commissioned through the Direct Fleet Accession, Seaman to Admiral (S2A) program, or through the Enlisted Commissioning Program.

LDOs and CWOs are a very unique part of the Naval service. The LDO or CWO serves in a role like no other commissioned officer can. LDOs and CWOs are enlisted people who are commissioned as Officers, and have been called to serve from their senior enlisted ranks as technical managers. An LDO or CWO has the necessary experience and technical background to perform tasks that call for the "officer" rank and protocol to carry out, but require the enlisted heart and experience to get accomplished.

Currently, the US Navy and Marine Corps are the only branches of the armed forces to have such commissioning programs in place. The term "Mustang" is a relatively modern term, originating either just prior to, or during World War II. It is believed to be a Sea Service term, although other service officers are beginning to be described as Mustangs. It literally refers to the mustang horse, which is a wild animal and therefore not a thoroughbred. A mustang, after being captured, can be tamed and saddle broken but it always has a bit of wild streak, and can periodically revert to its old ways unexpectedly. With this thought in mind, the owner needs to keep an eye on it at all times. By the same token, however, since a mustang was formerly a wild and free animal, it may very well be smarter, more capable and have a better survival instinct than thoroughbreds. The mustang can take care of itself when things get tough, thriving on rough treatment, while the thoroughbred, having been pampered its whole life, cannot.

You can easily see the parallel between horses and Naval Officers. The term "Mustang" is used in a complimentary sense most of the time. An LDO or CWO is an officer by appearance and in the minds of the "top brass," and an enlisted technician at heart.

The creed of the LDO/CWO, upon receiving their commission is: "I did it the hard way... I earned it."

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