A local sailor is making big waves in Pearl Harbor.

Mike Bencini, who is serving in the Naval Surface Group Middle Pacific and is the son of former High Point Mayor Bill Bencini, has been promoted to commander.

In a ceremony held on historic Ford Island on the joint Pearl Harbor-Hickam naval base, Mike Bencini was placed in charge of a great deal of the forces stationed in the Hawaiian harbor that’s most famous for being hit by a massive sneak attack in WWII.

Bencini, a, North Carolina native, will now serve as the Deputy Chief of Staff overseeing the maintenance, training and certification of some naval forces at the base.  In his new capacity, Bencini will also be assisting in managing the overall “warfighting capability” of the force in the harbor.

It took about 15 years for Bencini to earn a promotion to commander – which is described by the Navy as a “process of continuous development, education and growth, which often involves and relies upon the knowledge and experience gained from senior enlisted Sailors and the dedication of junior Sailors.”

Bencini viewed the honor humbly when asked about the promotion.

“Promoting [to Commander] means that I have been very fortunate and blessed to have been trained by the best chiefs and the brightest sailors in the world’s greatest Navy,” Bencini said. “Without my present and past shipmates’ heavy-lifting and dedication to duty, I would not be in the position I am in today.”

Speaking to the assembled staff at the ceremony, Bencini thanked both his family and his fellow sailors for their support, and he said he looked forward to continuing to serve in his new rank.

“For the last 15 years, service in our Navy has provided me the greatest opportunity to lead and work alongside our great nation’s men and women,” Bencini said.  “My obligation is to my sailors, and to their families, friends, and taxpayers we protect, and serving in an organization that expects a higher level of accountability – no better warfighting team to be on.”

Bencini joined the Navy after graduating from Vanderbilt University, where he earned his commission through the Navy Reserve Officer Training Corps in 2004.  He has served onboard the USS Tarawa, the USS McCampbell and the USS Mustin among other ships.

During his time on shore, he was stationed at the Navy Personnel Command, and completed his Master’s in Public Administration at the University of Memphis.

According to Bencini, he was inspired to join the Navy “after a firsthand experience impressed upon him the fundamental core values of the service.”

“At a young age,” he said, “my grandmother took me on a tour of the United States Naval Academy, and it was during that campus tour I was introduced to the core values of honor, courage, commitment.”

Bencini added: “That early exposure to those foundational values struck a chord in me that has since never been out of tune; from that moment forward, those three core values have powered my internal compass.”

His personal awards include Navy Commendation Medals, Navy Achievement Medals as well as various unit, campaign and service awards.