Admiral Gilday: Good morning. Distinguished guests, fellow flag officers, sailors, friends of sailors, chief petty officers, chief selects, and especially our Navy families. Welcome to the Navy Memorial.
I’d like to especially recognize MCPON Smith for joining me here today. It’s great to be alongside him. And this is one of our most sacred places. Admiral Thorpe, thank you for all your support and for making this possible today. This is a fitting place to hold a ceremony such as this and to really celebrate a transformational day in the lives of those who will soon receive their anchors.
For the chief selects, you won’t remember much of what I have to say this morning except for two words, anchor up. Be the chief. That’s what I want you to leave with today.
My first chief told me that our most important weapon system in the Navy are our people. People are and will continue to be the most important and key competitive advantage over any adversary. The fact that I am highlighting this enduring principle 34 years after I first heard it form my chief reflects how pivotal chief petty officers have been in my life and during my career. That’s why it was so important to me to get down to the waterfront as soon as I can after assuming the duties of CNO to reconnect with sailors and their families, especially the chief’s mess.
The first ship I went to, USS Kearsarge, allowed me the opportunity to meet with the chiefs there. I left feeling uplifted and inspired, and once again hooked on what I do. And that brief time only reinforced how important the institutions of the chief petty officers mess is to our Navy and to our nation.
I use that word institution very, very carefully. When we use it, we usually indicate something that’s merely been around for a long time. That’s not what I mean today. The usage of that word in that context indicates something that’s stale or indicates complacency and that’s the exact opposite of what the chiefs mess represents.
The original meaning is far better. The word institution is the action of establishing or founding. Under this definition the institution of the chief petty officers mess is not who you are or the insignia that you wear or the fact that we’ve marked this occasion for many years, but it’s about what you do. It’s about the actions that you take day in and day out.
Even the briefest review of history demonstrates that chief petty officers are sailors of action. Some of their names like John Finn or Oscar Peterson or Peter Tomich, all chiefs who were awarded the Medal of Honor. All legends in their own right. These examples of valor and sacrifice are worthy of telling and retelling.
But there is something even greater about those individuals’ examples. Our whole Navy’s achievements over our 244 years history are due in large measure, large measure, to the training and the mentorship provided by chief petty officers.
Let me tell you just briefly a bit more about what I mean. Later this year we will commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Leyte Gulf. The line of heroes we look to for inspiration from that series of combat actions is long and wellknown. We’ll remember Commander Ernest Evans, we’ll remember Lieutenant Commander Robert Copeland and Gunners Mate 3rd Class Paul Carr.
A chief isn’t on that list, but the sailors and the officers we lionized from that battle were all trained and they were mentored by chief petty officers. Those chiefs would probably tell you that they weren’t looking for credit and they certainly weren’t looking to get their name delivered in a speech 75 years later by a CNO.
They were focused on the actions they needed to take to establish the mess and to institute the mess every single day. They were focused on making our Navy team the most lethal weapon system in our arsenal. And they were focused on creating winners -- the sailors and officers whose actions would cement the U.S. Navy’s combat record and show that our destroyers can fight like battleships as they did at Leyte Gulf.
So chief selects, I charge you and those who already wear those anchors to think about the chiefs mess as an institution. The sum of daily acts, both small and large, that continue to challenge those of us who wear the uniform today to rise to the standards of those who came before us. The actions that will leave our Navy in a better position tomorrow.
That can’t happen from the physical space of the mess. I expect you to be constantly out and about in the spaces in which you work.
Now we take a moment to recognize the efforts of your families for they too have invested time, confidence, love, and faith that you had the potential to one day be a chief petty officer. Please join me in round of applause for the families who have supported our newest generation of Navy chiefs. [Applause].
In closing, carrying the legacy forward of those who came before you will test you. It will draw on your skills, your knowledge, and the experiences that form the basis of your very selection. The demands you face are tall indeed, and I have high expectations as chief petty officers that you will lead the sailors that you are responsible for and lead them well.
I’m also confident that you’ll rise to meet your obligations, making the most of each and every day. Leading sailors to fulfill a promise of their potential. The challenges we face as a Navy and as a nation demand that you do so.
As those who wore the anchors before you, we need your best efforts now more than ever.
So chief selects, once again, anchor up. Be the chief.
Thank you very much.
Adm. Mike Gilday
16 September 2019
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