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Around The Fleet

Chief Petty Officer Legacy Academy:

History, Heritage and Tradition

The first week of August had first class petty officers on their toes with their palms sweating with anticipation, thoughts running wild and with their hearts beating faster than usual.

They waited patiently for that fateful message on the 1MC to hear their name called in hopes that their hard work and naval service had paid off and finally been rewarded.

On Friday, September 16, 4,765 Sailors around the world had gold fouled anchors pinned on the lapels of their freshly pressed khakis. These Sailors had just completed nearly seven weeks of CPO 365 Phase II that included training, mentorship and learning prior to their initiation into the largest fraternity in the Navy.

For 54 chief selectees in San Diego, Phase II was anything but normal. It included six days and five nights of teamwork and heritage training aboard the USS Midway for Chief Petty Officer Legacy Academy Class 009.

Some of these [chief] selects have never seen or been on a ship and now they have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be aboard the USS Midway during their induction." -LSC Joshua Taubken, CPO Legacy Mentor

The All Hands Magazine team spent a full day with Class 009 and caught a glimpse of how mentors mold selectees into Chief Petty Officers aboard the Midway in downtown San Diego.

Their day started with a familiar phrase reminiscent of being underway or boot camp:

"Reveille, reveille!"
Three photo collage of chief selectees training aboard USS Midway.

At 0500 and the selectees woke up, showered, shaved, brushed their teeth, donned their Navy Working Uniform and started sweepers.

By 0600 the selectees headed to the hangar bay for morning muster. Waiting for them were ten mentors [chiefs and senior chiefs] and one command senior chief. The plan-of-the-day was discussed and then they made their way to Anti-Submarine Warfare Naval Base in San Diego for breakfast.

The atmosphere was just as you would see friends at breakfast, talking about where they are, where they've been and how they got to where they are now - more like a family. After breakfast they head to the San Diego waterfront to the 153-year-old restored full-rigged windjammer 'Star of India' and the replica tallship 'Californian' for seamanship training.

They arrived by 0800 and were split into three groups, one group boarded the 'Star of India,' to learn the ship's history, one group was aboard the 'Californian' learning how to sail, and the last group rowed into the harbor of San Diego, singing 'Anchors Aweigh.'

"How cool is it that we are learning how to sail a wooden ship," said Chief Select Aviation Maintenance Administrationman Brien Ward.

It's like something you would see in the movies. After we're all trained up we will eventually sail this ship out into the harbor of San Diego." -AZC (Select) Brien Ward

Once training on each section was completed, the selectees head to the Maritime Museum for a short lunch.

At 1300, things kicked up a notch. The three previous groups became two and the first group boarded the Californian and started the necessary checks in order to take her out to sea.

"Avast! What's our bearing? Grab the halyard!"

Using words Sailors do not often hear, today, they were repeated as they took the ship out to sea. The team was split one on the port side and the other on the starboard side, each had a different task.

"This is exactly what it's like when they are in charge of a group of Sailors," said Taukben.

The first group was out in the harbor of San Diego for an hour and a half. The ship was close to USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) and USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) and locals on their boats and Sea-Doos stopped in awe as the Sailors controlled the sails of the 145-foot topsail schooner.

After taking the Californian out to sea, they headed pierside and team two took the sails.

1600 came and both teams have headed out to sea. With the 'Californian' moored by the Midway, the selectees formed up and marched back.

They were close to Seaport Village, a local tourist attraction, there they are met with cheers and claps. Other stopped and recorded the selects as they marched with pride.

The selectees arrived back at the Midway and sounded off with "Navy Chief! Navy Pride!" before they went on break.
Three photo collage of chief selectees training aboard USS Midway.

After break it was 1700, and it was time for chow aboard Midway.

Dinner came to an end at 1800 and master chiefs from various commands had gathered in the hangar bay and the class was split into four groups. Embedded in each group a master chief whom gave his or her own advice about leading, mentorship and being a chief.

"One of the biggest things I will take out of this is 'as a future chief, it's not about me it's about the Sailors that you lead' this is what stuck with me," said Chief Select Gunner's Mate Jarod Mason, assigned to Commander, LCS Squadron One.

The conversations continued until taps and that is when we had to leave.

"Everyday during this week is a different event," said Ward. "Not one thing is the same."

During their stay aboard Midway, the group of CPO selectees learned about leadership, teamwork, and Navy history and heritage from a group of active duty and retired chief, senior chief and master chief petty officers. The heritage portion of the training consisted of a visit to the San Diego Veteran's Museum in Balboa Park as well as other historic naval sites and landmarks. Selectees also toured several local commands to learn about many different naval warfighting missions.

"We get to experience everything they experience, but we're just guiding them along the way," said Taukben. "It's just an overwhelming amount of knowledge and heritage that these selects would take to their next command."

San Diego Chief Petty Officer Legacy Academy is not alone; there are multiple legacy academies throughout the nation. In total there are five: USS Constitution in Boston; USS Missouri in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii; USS Turner Joy in Bremerton, Washington; Naval Training Center in Great Lakes, Illinois; and USS Midway in San Diego.

If you are selected to become a chief and want to be part of a legacy academy, it's an official TDY [Temporary Duty Assignment]. Just go through the proper channels with your command and hopefully will see you next year!" -LSC Joshua Taubken