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MCPON Smith's 129th CPO Birthday Message to the Fleet

01 April 2022
On this day each year, we gather together around the world to reflect on what it means to be a Chief Petty Officer.  37,000 active and reserve Chiefs consistently display a selfless dedication to the mission, putting our Sailors, our requirements and our Navy ahead of our own needs.  We commit ourselves daily to the strengthening of our technical expertise and warfighting skills, with a particular emphasis on the growth and development of our Sailors - those who will eventually relieve us.  As a Mess, we work closely with each other, leveraging the power of connection along a horizontal axis to collaborate and find solutions to our most intense challenges. 

This legacy of service has matured immeasurably over the last 129 years, but the core expectations of our Mess remain the same today as they did in 1893.  This sentiment was best captured in an essay entitled “A Message to Garcia” by Elbert Hubbard; much like 1st LT Rowan, our Chief Petty Officers are not ones to incessantly question or lack conviction, but instead take the commander's intent and simply get the job done - “to ‘do the thing’ and carry a message to Garcia.”  It is our initiative, our willingness to boldly lead and perpetuate a culture of excellence focused on achieving best-ever performance - that is our true legacy.  It has stood the test of time, and lies at the heart of what our officers expect from us - and what our Sailors demand of us.

Leadership is not an easy endeavor. Among other things, it requires tough decisions that not everyone will agree with, even though Chiefs specialize in building consensus among leaders with disparate points of view.  Honor, integrity, duty and self-discipline infuse our every action, in such a way that those decisions we make and actions we take will survive the scrutiny of hindsight.

In difficult environments and often facing tremendous odds, our Chiefs work together to improvise solutions and win - this is what makes our Mess so strong.  We are far stronger, wiser and more lethal together, and it is that unity of effort that a CO is expecting us to deliver on.

We do not celebrate ourselves, as we are professionals who do this difficult work every day.  That said, this particular day provides us the chance to reflect on how far we’ve come, and to enjoy the fellowship and camaraderie of our herd as we remind each other of our shared history - the events that have shaped our development.  More importantly, it affords us the opportunity to strengthen our internal ties - so critical to leveraging our unique organization and ensuring our Navy prevails in any mission our Nation requires.

Russell L. Smith
Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy

 

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