PENSACOLA, Fla. (NNS) -- The ninth Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy (MCPON) and former Commander, Naval Education and Training (NETC) force master chief served as the guest speaker during the Pensacola-area chief petty officer (CPO) pinning ceremony Sept. 16 at the Naval Air Technical Training Center (NATTC) Charles Taylor Hangar at Naval Air Station Pensacola.
Casper, Wyoming, native, MCPON (ret.) James L. Herdt, a submariner upon enlistment, said events such as the Pensacola-area CPO pinning ceremony are a significant milestone in any enlisted Sailor's career.
"The Navy puts a lot of faith and confidence in a chief petty officer and they have high expectations," Herdt said. "The new chiefs now have the opportunity to go out and meet those expectations. They have very sophisticated leadership skills, compared to the type of leadership skills that we exhibited back in the day when I first became a chief."
Herdt observed the 61 CPO selectees receive their anchors and covers during the traditional ceremony, something he said is representative of the years of dedication each of these Sailors has demonstrated throughout their careers.
"I am absolutely convinced that we would not have a chief's mess inside the United States Navy today if we didn't do this every year," he said. "Because as important as it is to prepare new chiefs to come into the mess, I think it is even more important that every chief petty officer in the entire Navy, I mean this is the time of year when on this day the entire navy comes to a standstill, every chief petty officer puts on their combination cover, stands at attention and listens to the chief's creed being read. And in that creed, they recommit and rededicate themselves to the ideal of being a chief petty officer. If we didn't do that every year, I don't know that we would have the chief's mess that we have today."
Herdt said that different training methods are in place today for service members selected to the rank of chief petty officer, noting that changes impacted by MCPON Michael D. Stevens, most notably the CPO 365 Phase II initiative, have broadened the scope of training CPO selects have historically undergone without undermining the heritage and tradition of the most significant promotion in the enlisted naval rates.
"The Navy dedicates a lot of time and energy and, man, years to this process of bringing chiefs into the mess, and I think the Navy has a right to expect a definable result of the time that they dedicate to it," he said. "And I think the process, as we have transitioned it over years, now delivers a definable well-developed product at the end of that process. I am energized by what the process now delivers. The mess of today is certainly far superior, in my estimation, to anything that we have ever had before."
CPO 365, a year-long development and training for first class petty officers, was first introduced in 2010 under former MCPON Rick West. It includes two phases, the first of which begins in September each year. Under MCPON Mike Steven's revised program, detailed in his 2012-2013 CPO 365 Guidance, all first class petty officer participated through the duration of Phase One, whether they were board-eligible or not. CPO 365 Phase Two training begins when CPO selectees are announced and concludes with the pinning ceremony.
Pensacola-area CPO Class 122 Chairman Senior Chief Hospital Corpsman (FMF/SCW) Robert Flowers said the six weeks of CPO 365 Phase II is something in which chiefs mess' throughout the Navy have been involved, and facilitating the program for the NAS Pensacola Chief's Mess was something he holds quite dear.
"The past six weeks has been about teamwork, leadership and the continuous development of these Sailors," he said. "These Sailors are already proven leaders, and now they are part of the most elite maritime fraternity in the world - the United States Navy Chief's Mess. I couldn't be more proud or honored to have been part of their transition process."
Newly pinned NATTC Aviation Electronics Instructor Aviation Electronics Technician (AW) Andrea Kent said her selection and subsequent promotion to CPO is something toward which she has always striven, and the training, mentorship and guidance she received throughout the transition process will pay dividends as she prepares to take the next step in her career.
"Being selected for promotion to chief is something I've always wanted," she said. "And learning of what this entails, of how important it is to have this anchor and khaki uniform, of how to be a chief petty officer, is something I can attribute to the Pensacola-area CPO Mess by getting myself and my brothers and sisters ready to lead and mentor throughout the fleet."
The rate of chief petty officer is that of a senior non-commissioned officer, and was established on April 1, 1893 for the United States Navy. Chief petty officers serve a dual role as both technical experts and as leaders.
For more news from Naval Air Station Pensacola, visit www.navy.mil/local/naspensacola/.