New Navy chief petty officers take charge
“No other armed forces have a rank equivalent to a chief petty officer,” said Master Chief Derrick Johnson, information technology systems specialist and the senior enlisted leader with the Center for Information Dominance Detachment. A tradition over a hundred years in the making, the rank of chief petty officer and its importance to the function of the United States naval force is exemplified in the creed of the institution: each chief is recognized as “a fountain of wisdom, ambassador of good will, and the authority in personal relations as well as in technical applications.”
Naval Information Operations Command Georgia personnel and senior leadership gathered Sept. 13 at Alexander Hall to welcome 12 newly-pinned chief petty officers to their new positions. The right of passage was symbolized in every evolution of the ceremony.
“ You’ve been tried, you’ve been tested, but you’ve all been accepted,” said Command Master Chief Larry Howard, command master chief, NIOC Georgia, during his speech which challenged the new chiefs to “take charge.”
These new E- 7s are the first to come from the Navy’s newly founded CPO- 365 program, an intense training and mentorship utility aimed at the development of first class petty officers for selection as chiefs. As they were piped aboard, the fiscal year 2013 first-year chiefs saluted, effectively turning over the watch.
“A chief petty officer is always expected to answer any question, solve any problem, help any Sailor in need,” said Cmdr. Todd Gagnon, executive officer, NIOC Georgia. “You became a chief petty officer today because you’ve been accepted by the most selective and scrutinizing group, your fellow chief petty officers.”
In the six weeks leading up to the pinning ceremony, chiefs train the new “chief selects” in physical fitness, naval history, customs and courtesy and most importantly, leadership. Still, this process comes after several steps: chief hopefuls must do well on the E-7 examination, then make a chief’s board, then make selection; the chief’s mess doesn’t make room for anything less than perfection.
But all the training in the world can’t make anyone into a good leader.
“Being a chief petty officer is not anything you can read or be taught,” said Johnson. “It comes from inside. You just know.”
Senior Chief Petty Officer Andrew Leshnov, coordinator of NIOC Georgia CPO 365, expressed “absolute faith” in the command’s newest chiefs.
“All of their training, PT for the last six weeks culminates in this day. Every little piece of the ceremony is important.”
“This is the most important day of the year for the Navy,” said Gagnon. “To be part of this now rather than years later in my career, seeing these new chief petty officers work so hard to get here, is an honor.”
Some of the 12 who made it through the selection process and proved worthy to wear the timetested uniform of a chief struggled to even translate the pride into words.
“Words can’t describe how I feel,” said Chief Petty Officer Jason Mitchum, a network cryptology technician.
Coworkers, family and friends alike swarmed to congratulate the newlypinned after the ceremony.
“The process, everything was what did it,” said Chief Petty Officer Selena Houston, a collection cryptology technician, “This feeling is amazing.”
“One of the top five moments of my life,” said Chief Petty Officer D’Kendrick Roebuck, a collection cryptology technician.