USS ENTERPRISE, At Sea (NNS) -- The Navy Chief is an institution molded over decades by the deeds of great men and women and, on this day, another milestone was reached. The last 49 Chief Petty Officers ever to be forged on the deck plates of the world's first and finest aircraft carrier, USS Enterprise (CVN 65), were officially welcomed to the Chief's Mess during a pinning ceremony conducted Sept. 14 in the legendary carrier's hangar bay.
The induction process is arduous and shrouded in secrecy to all but those who have joined the order of the Navy Chief. What is visible to all, however, is the time and effort these selectees put into becoming the cornerstones of tomorrow's Navy.
"The training they get now better prepares them for wearing their anchors and working in their anchors then it did when we went through the induction process," said Command Master Chief Lee Barbrey, command master chief of the Red Rippers of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 11. "It still has the same significance to me, but I would have appreciated a lot more of the training we do for them now. They are a lot better equipped to run a division than I was after I got pinned - by far."
Rear Adm. Walter E. Carter, Jr., commander, Enterprise Carrier Strike Group (ENTCSG), offered sound words of wisdom to the new batch of Chiefs in his speech at the beginning of the ceremony.
"I've asked a lot of you what leadership meant to each and every one of you; and I just have three simple statements for you," said Carter. "Lead by doing; lead by example, and don't be afraid to lead with your heart."
In an unexpected twist following Carter's remarks, the Enterprise Chief's Mess offered one attendee the chance to receive his anchors.
During one of the highlights of the event, the last Chief Petty Officer pinning ceremony to be held aboard the "Big E," Capt. William C. Hamilton, Jr., commanding officer of Enterprise, was pinned as an honorary Chief Petty Officer.
Master Chief Dwayne E. Huff, command master chief of Enterprise, also offered words of wisdom to the fresh group of Enterprise Chiefs before the pinning ceremony began.
Those who know what it feels like to achieve this historic title can still feel the excitement and sense of pride years after the day they were presented with the set of anchors that would change their lives forever.
"It still ranks as one of the most significant days of my life - after meeting my wife and the birth of my children," said Barbrey.
When you ask a newly-pinned Chief what it feels like to finally be wearing the anchors worn by hundreds of years worth of great leaders, their answer doesn't deviate from those who came before them - another testament to the long, proud history of the Navy Chief and the process of becoming a deck plate leader.
"It's a feeling I can't even describe," said Chief Quartermaster Craig Bowman, newly-frocked chief petty officer. "It's overwhelming joy coupled with a tiredness that is hard to explain. It's indescribable; just the joy and the feeling of accomplishment.
What does it take to get to this point? Bowman, displaying the wisdom that saw him chosen to join the ranks of the proud few had only this to say: "Never give up. Never listen to the naysayers and just keep pushing forward."
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