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Recruit Training Command Chiefs Celebrate 128 Years

01 April 2021

From Chief Mass Communication Specialist Brandie Nix

GREAT LAKES, Ill. - Recruit Training Command’s (RTC) chief petty officers (CPO) gathered at various locations around RTC April 1, to celebrate the 128th CPO birthday.

Restricted by current COVID-19 protocols, the Chiefs Mess gathered in small groups at each flagstaff on base to conduct morning colors and held a cake cutting ceremony.

With the advent of the coronavirus and global pandemic, RTC’s leadership made the decision to cancel any gatherings and celebrations last year, which meant there was no event for the 127th CPO birthday. This year, with planning and preparation, the power of the Mess came through.

“We wanted to do something simple while ensuring COVID-19 protocols were in place,” said Chief Logistics Specialist Ray Santos, who organized the event. “It’s important that we still observe our birthday because it’s part of our heritage. Our past defines what we have become and with this particular scenario, the pandemic may exist, but it should not and will not interfere with our heritage.”

Nor will it interfere with the deckplate leadership that is expected of the chief petty officer.

“For the past 128 years, the chief petty officers have been ensuring the Navy mission doesn’t stop,” said RTC’s Command Master Chief Nicholas Wallace. “This past year has been a pure privilege to watch the CPO Messes around the world, and especially at RTC, think outside the box to ensure the mission continues on amidst this global pandemic.”

Navy General Order 409 officially established the rank of chief petty officer on April 1, 1893.  According to Navy History and Heritage Command, chiefs are recognized for exemplary technical expertise within their rating, superior administrative skills, and strong leadership ability. Most importantly, chiefs bridge the gap between officers and enlisted personnel, acting as supervisors as well as advocates for their Sailors.

Boot camp is approximately eight weeks and all enlistees into the U.S. Navy begin their careers at the command. Training includes physical fitness, seamanship, firearms, firefighting and shipboard damage control along with lessons in Navy heritage and core values, teamwork and discipline. More than 40,000 recruits are trained annually at RTC and begin their Navy careers.

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