Yesterday, on April 1st, Chiefs around the fleet celebrated the 117th anniversary of the creation of the rank of Chief Petty Officer. Since its creation in 1893, the Chiefs’ Mess has matured into arguably the most influential organization within U.S. Navy.
To me and thousands of others who have worn a Navy uniform, the Chiefs’ Mess is the backbone of any command. Every Sailor has been told to look to the Chief for technical expertise, for career guidance, and as an example to follow. Every junior officer has been told the same thing. Every senior officer knows to listen to the Chiefs’ Mess, or ignore it at great peril. No one understands the Sailors better or has a better sense of the pulse of a command than the Mess.
Marines are famous for their espirit de corps, dedication to their service, and respect for tradition. Chiefs share those traits within the Navy. If you have ever had the privilege of watching a Chief Petty Officer pinning ceremony, you cannot help but be impressed by the dignity of it all. As you watch, you can almost feel the undercurrent of tradition – of importance – that fills the room. The new Chief Petty Officers are welcomed into the Mess with the reciting of the Chief Petty Officer Creed, which says in part:
“More will be expected of you; more will be demanded of you. Not because you are an E7 but because you are now a Chief Petty Officer. You have not merely been promoted one paygrade, you have joined an exclusive fellowship and, as in all fellowships, you have a special responsibility to your comrades, even as they have a special responsibility to you. This is why we in the United States Navy may maintain with pride our feelings of accomplishment once we have attained the position of Chief Petty Officer. Your new responsibilities and privileges do not appear in print. They have no official standing; they cannot be referred to by name, number, nor file. They have existed for over 100 years, Chiefs before you have freely accepted responsibility beyond the call of printed assignment. Their actions and their performance demanded the respect of their seniors as well as their juniors. It is now required that you be the fountain of wisdom, the ambassador of good will, the authority in personal relations as well as in technical applications. ‘Ask the Chief is a household phrase in and out of the Navy.
You are now the Chief.”
Happy birthday, Chief Petty Officers, and thank you.
Jeff, you’re absolutely right. At every step of my Navy career, from OCS to retirement, I had the pleasure of working with truly professional Chief Petty Officers. There’s nothing like having a Chief you can rely on. They are the true backbone of the fleet. Here’s one more “thank you” to all the Chiefs I ever worked with.