Say Hello to the New Chiefs
By MCCS (SW) Joe Kane
All along the San Diego waterfront this week, chief petty officers (CPOs) are gathering to meet the first class petty officers who have been selected for promotion to E-7. To the average person, this may seem like just another step up, another pay raise, another mundane event in the Navy routine. But for those who have been dreaming of it and working toward it for their entire careers, the moment those anchors are pinned on will be remembered as one of the most important events in their life.
So what’s the big deal?
The big deal is that for enlisted Sailors the attainment of the rank of E-7 means an entirely new level of commitment and respect, and to a large degree, a whole new identity. As anyone who has gone through it will attest, anchors on the collar instantly transform a person from a Sailor into “The Chief.” Imagine junior Sailors that you’ve never met before stopping to ask for information and calling you “Chief,” as if it were the first name of a long-respected uncle. They see the anchor not the person.
The anchors are a symbol representing an ideal larger than any one person wearing it. It signifies knowledge, excellence, professionalism, Navy tradition and much more. In the Chief Petty Officer’s Creed, it says:
“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. The exalted position you have now achieved—and the word exalted is used advisedly—exists because of the attitude and performance of the Chiefs before you. It shall exist only as long as you and your fellow Chiefs maintain these standards.”
That is a lot to live up to! But since they have already been selected, the Navy chain of command has already shown it is ready to entrust them with that responsibility. Between now and Sept. 16 when they are officially promoted, they will strive to renew their commitment to the Navy and to their Sailors. They will learn to be a chief.
Over the next six weeks, CPO selectees will be out on early morning training runs, holding fundraisers, volunteering in the community and walking around with their charge books in hand to meet and gain knowledge from other CPOs.
If you get a chance, congratulate them—even if you don’t know them. Take a close look at them and see if you can see the silver and gold gleam of an anchor in their eyes… and when they finally do put on that khaki hat in September, feel free to call them by their new first name, “Chief!”
MCCS Kane is currently assigned as public affairs officer aboard USS Essex (LHD 2).