USS GEORGE WASHINGTON, At Sea (NNS) -- The George Washington Carrier Strike Group, led by the Navy's full-time forward-deployed aircraft carrier USS George Washington (CVN 73), frocked their newest chief petty officers (CPO), Sept. 14.
Sixty Sailors from George Washington; Commander, Task Force (CTF) 70; Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 5; and Destroyer Squadron 15, earned their anchors after six weeks of learning what it takes to have the title of CPO.
"You can't imagine what these men and women went through these last six weeks," said Master Chief Cryptologic Technician (Maintenance) Kyucca-Ali Simpson, from New York. "They learned what it takes to be a CPO in the greatest Navy in the world. They survived on pure adrenaline, and today are exhausted and excited. They have been tested, tried and accepted."
CPO selectees form a close bond soon after getting notice of their selection to the rank of CPO; they work together for several weeks, accomplishing various tasks and attending countless training sessions in the hopes of learning what it means to be a CPO. While going through this process, they no longer rely on the Petty Officer 1st Class (PO1) Mess, whom they had worked side-by-side with and had been chosen to lead. They also have not been accepted as CPOs, whose mission is to instill the traits expected from a future leader.
"Nobody can be taught how to be a CPO as a PO1," said Simpson. "Even if a PO1 has been in the Navy for more than 19 years, they still could not grasp the concept of what it takes without the [weeks of training]. The concept can't be understood until the CPO puts on their khakis and looks into a mirror; then they get it. They know what it's all about."
The CPO selectees were rigorously drilled about the importance of leadership and fellowship; traits that will prove invaluable to them upon entering the goat locker.
"I learned that taking care of our people is key," said Chief Aviation Electronics Technician Eric Setterfield, from St. Petersburg, Fla., one of George Washington's newest CPOs. "We have to take care of our junior Sailors and junior officers; we can't function without the team."
CPOs, from the newest inductee into the goat locker to the master chief petty officer who has worn anchors for more than 15 years, do not quit training because they wear anchors. By interacting with their brothers and sisters in the CPO mess, training their junior Sailors and officers, and making sure the job of the day gets completed expeditiously and safely, everyday is a learning experience.
"In my opinion, if you want to be a good leader, you have to maintain a servant's heart," said Master Chief Hull Maintenance Technician Barry Norris, from Asheville, N.C. "You serve your people, you serve your chain [of command], you serve your nation."
George Washington and its embarked air wing, Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 5, provide a combat-ready force that protects and defends the collective maritime interest of the U.S. and its allies and partners in the Asia-Pacific region.
For more news from USS George Washington (CVN 73), visit www.navy.mil/local/cvn73/.