Comedian and former sailor Bill Cosby  has been recognized as an honorary chief petty officer in a ceremony on February 17 at the U.S. Navy Memorial and Naval Heritage center in Washington D.C.

Cosby joined the Navy as a hospital corpsman in 1956, but a different kind of field was in the stars for him. He was an honorary discharge in 1960 as a petty officer 3rd class. Three years later he was making Johnny Carson laugh on The Tonight Show.

“Bill Cosby is not just a comedian and an actor, although he’s pretty good at both, he’s also been a tireless advocate for social responsibility and education – and a constant friend to the Navy,” Navy secretary Ray Mabus said.

Cosby’s awards include Navy Good Conduct Medal, the National Defense Service Medal and the 2010 Lone Sailor Award from the U.S. Memorial.

“The Navy gave me a wake-up call. The Navy showed me obedience, and that’s the thing that pushed me to realize the mistakes I had made in my young life at 19 years old, and that I could do something with myself and become somebody,” Cosby said, clearly grateful for the honor bestowed upon him.

Watch Bill Cosby’s speech, courtesy of!