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History and Heritage

121 Years of Deck Plate Leadership

Celebrating the Chiefs

The Navy celebrated the 121st birthday of the chief petty officer April 1 at the Navy Memorial in Washington D.C.

Five former master chief petty officers of the Navy (MCPON) and Ima Black, widow of the first MCPON Delbert Black joined MCPON Mike Stevens for the ceremony. Hundreds of chief petty officers from across the country came out to celebrate the occasion and got a chance to meet the former MCPONs.

"You are the forbearers, you are the flag bearers, you are the backbone of our Navy, and I say that not flippantly, but I actually believe that with all of my heart - that without the chiefs we've got some big problems," said guest speaker and the 6th MCPON William Plackett.

The U.S. Navy grade of chief petty officer was established April 1, 1893 to distinguish the senior enlisted leaders. The grade of senior chief petty officer and master chief petty officer followed in 1958.

Since the beginning, chief petty officers have been given the responsibility of leading Sailors, ready to carry out the Navy's mission when called upon.

"Do the things you do on a day-to-day basis: taking care of our Sailors and never forgetting where you yourself came from," said Plackett.