USS ABRAHAM LINCOLN, At Sea (NNS) -- The chief petty officers (CPO) of USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) and Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 2 gathered in the carrier's hangar bay April 1, to honor the 113th birthday of the chief petty officer rank.
Command Master Chief, CMDCM (SW/AW/NAC) Michael Anjola, presided over the ceremony, during which he talked about the beginnings of the chief and their role in today's Navy.
"The word chief means taking first place, and denotes its senior position among enlisted ranks," he said.
Anjola mentioned some of the Navy's earliest and most gallant CPOs, such as Chief Quarter Gunner George Hill, the first chief awarded the Medal of Honor. Hill earned the medal on July 9, 1872, while aboard the 836-ton screw steam gunboat, USS Kansas near Greytown, Nicaragua after taking decisive action to save his shipmates' lives. Also mentioned was Chief Water Tender Peter Tomich, who was killed during the Dec. 7, 1941, attack on Pearl Harbor aboard USS Utah (AG 16). Tomich stayed in his engineering plant until all the ship's boilers were secured and all his personnel had left their stations, at the cost of his life. He was awarded the Medal of Honor posthumously.
Chief Hull Technician (SW/AW) Carmen Viduya, Lincoln's equal opportunity advisor, reminded the group about the success and history of female chiefs.
Viduya said that in 1916, women were given a glimpse of Navy life when they were allowed to join as yeomen, however many were released from active duty after World War I ended. Only a few stayed in the Navy as active Reservists, one of whom was Chief Yeoman Joy Bright Hancock. Viduya said Hancock would be proud if she could see today's Navy and how her accomplishments helped revolutionized the Navy for female Sailors.
"Everywhere you see a chief," said Viduya "you see a new generation, [more fit], smarter, and taking on roles never before imagined."
The ship's commemorative "Chiefs' Bell" was then sounded in honor of chiefs who have given their lives in service to their nation. Senior Chief Engineman (EOD/SW) Andy Rodolph read the names of fallen CPOs, as Senior Chief Yeoman (SW) Melissa Sandidge sounded one peal in memoriam of each fallen comrade.
Cmdr. Bryan K. Finch, command chaplain, concluded the ceremony with a poem and a prayer.
Master Chief Master-at-Arms (SW/AW) C. J. May, who had the honor of cutting the CPO birthday cake, said that making chief was the highlight of his Navy career.
"It gave me the opportunity to give something back to the Navy and to those people who have helped me grow along the way," said May. "They (CPOs) are the Navy's leaders and the reason the Navy is so successful."
Throughout the years since their inception, CPOs made their impression on the Navy, and are looked to as the definitive leaders of enlisted personnel. Year after year, as CPOs gather to remember their humble beginnings, the importance of their leadership and experience are reinforced.
"We are a special group of leaders" said Viduya, "and I feel that it is important that we talk about it in our own words every April 1, so no one forgets the trials the chiefs before us have gone through."
Abraham Lincoln is on a routine deployment to conduct maritime security operations and to train with coalition partners to improve the ability to operate with naval forces from many nations.
For related news, visit the USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) Navy NewsStand page at www.news.navy.mil/local/cvn72/.