I thought I’d take the opportunity to wish all my fellow Chief Petty Officers a happy 121st birthday.
Last Friday, 13 Sept. 2013, a career long dream came true. I was pinned as a Chief Petty Officer in the United States Navy. I had the pleasure of being pinned by my dad Chip Bryant and my grandfather Hoyt Ownby, a Korean War Arm Veteran.
The process leading up to the pinning was challenging yet extremely rewarding. Below is a copy of the CPO Creed. It’s posted several places on the web and I want to propagate it on my blog as well.
“During the course of this day you have been caused to humbly accept challenge and face adversity. This you have accomplished with rare good grace. Pointless as some of these challenges may have seemed, there were valid, time-honored reasons behind each pointed barb. It was necessary to meet these hurdles with blind faith in the fellowship of Chief Petty Officers. The goal was to instill in you that trust is inherent with the donning of the uniform of a Chief.
It was our intent to impress upon you that challenge is good; a great and necessary reality which cannot mar you – which, in fact, strengthens you. In your future as a Chief Petty Officer, you will be forced to endure adversity far beyond that imposed upon you today. You must face each challenge and adversity with the same dignity and good grace you demonstrated today. By experience, by performance, and by testing, you have been this day advanced to Chief Petty Officer.
In the United States Navy – and only in the United States Navy – the rank of E7 carries with it unique responsibilities and privileges you are now bound to observe and expected to fulfill. Your entire way of life is now changed. More will be expected of you; more will be demanded of you. Not because you are a 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. 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. It was our intention that you never forget this day.
It was our intention to test you, to try you, and to accept you. Your performance has assured us that you will wear “the hat” with the same pride as your comrades in arms before you. We take a deep and sincere pleasure in clasping your hand, and accepting you as a Chief Petty officer in the United States Navy.”
In a few months, this blog post will either be updated or deleted depending on the outcome.
To advance (make more money) in the U.S. Navy we are given advancement exams. These exams test our job knowledge and our general military knowledge. The test scores are coupled with yearly evaluation scores and a magic number (final multiple) is derived. If your final multiple score is above the score that the Navy determines it needs to meet advancement needs then the individual will be advanced to the next higher pay grade. This method is true when a person is trying to advance to E4, E5, and E6, but differs slightly when trying to achieve the rank of Chief Petty Officer (E7).
To become a Chief Petty Officer (CPO) a sailor must still pass the exam and that is where the similarities end. Once the exam is passed the Navy will issue a list of those who are Selection Board Eligible (SBE), just passing the exam doesn’t automatically make a sailor board eligible. The “Board” is made up of several senior enlisted personnel who pour over service records to find the best of the best to be selected to wear the coveted gold fouled anchor with the silver superimposed U.S.N.
So, making board means a lot because if you don’t make board, then you have to wait another year before you can take the test and try again.
I made board. This is my second year taking the Chief’s exam and the second year I have made board. I am hopeful, but I am not holding my breath. At present, twelve other First Class Sonar Technicians took the Chief’s test. Only eight of us made board. Last year only one person out of eight was selected to become a Chief Sonar Technician.
Personally, I think I have what it takes, but the decision is not up to me.
So, if I become a Chief Select I plan on using this blog to document the process. If I do not, then I will delete this and try again next year.
As many of you may know I am a Reservist in the U.S. Navy. That means I am basically in the Navy on a part-time basis and “play” Navy on one weekend a month and then two weeks at some point during the year. A couple of weeks ago while at “drill” we were notified that the annual Armed Forces Day Parade would be held in downtown Chattanooga, TN on May 7th, 2010 and that the Grand Marshall would be the Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy (MCPON) Rick West.
The MCPON is the most senior enlisted person in the Navy and is a liaison for the enlisted community to the Chief of Naval Operations (CNO). The MCPON is also called upon to testify in front of Congress on various issues involving the enlisted naval community.
MCPON West is a previous Quartermaster (QM) in the submarine community and his accomplishments are too many to list here. For more detailed information on him you can visit either his Facebook page or his official Navy page.
Now back to the point…
During that drill weekend several of us were asked if we would like to march in the parade since the Navy needed to make a good showing for the MCPON. Reluctantly I volunteered. So on May 7th about 20 reservist met at the drill center. I’ll fast forward a bit and take you to the point where we are marching down the street and start to pass the reviewing stand where MCPON West is watching us. As we pass by he breaks his salute and starts clapping loudly, at which point cold chills went down my spine and I was instantly filled with more Navy pride than I can ever remember.
After the parade a few buddies and I walked back over towards the viewing stand and eventually got to shake the MCPON’s hand and get a picture with him. That moment was awesome. Here I was shaking hands with the senior enlisted person in the Navy and he just happens to be wearing the same submarine warfare pin that I was wearing. Like two brothers separated by three pay-grades and a lot of years.
That moment was trumped only to the event that happened the next day. I was invited to attend a submarine veteran’s meeting at my local Golden Coral and the guest speaker was MCPON West. I arrived early and sat down with his photographer, MC1 Jennifer Villalovos. We made small talk and all the while the MCPON was sitting right next to me.
Without a doubt, this past weekend was the highlight of my military career.