YOKOSUKA, Japan (NNS) -- As early morning traffic pulsed through the gates of Commander Fleet Activities Yokosuka (CFAY), the local chief petty officer (CPO) community stood proud, the first in the fleet to celebrate the 117th CPO birthday, April 1.
While the base paused for morning colors, members of the Far East CPO Mess gathered in their khaki uniforms and combination covers to render honors to the national flags of the U.S. and Japan, showing their presence and unity as leaders in the community.
At first glance, a civilian in a black jacket seemed to be lost in the sea of CPO khaki. However, closer inspection revealed a special guest and fellow "anchor" in the group.
Master Chief Boatswain's Mate (SEAL) (Ret.) Rudy Boesch, known for being the gruff, yet likeable season one finalist on the hit television show "Survivor," joined Yokosuka chiefs for their special day.
According to CFAY Command Master Chief Greg Vidaurri, Boesch's visit to Yokosuka is more than just displaying a celebrity; it is about honoring past and present Sailors who have served in the CPO community.
"He's a celebrity in our chief's community," Vidaurri said. "He is the only master chief petty officer that I know who served 45 years and three months and that says a lot. When you look at a man who joined the Navy in 1945 and retired in 1990 - think about that! Think about that commitment. I'm proud to be wearing the same uniform as Mr. Boesch."
Rudy served as a Navy SEAL team leader, completing two combat deployments to Vietnam. He was presented the Bronze Star medal for heroic action during more than 45 combat operations. Boesch later earned the coveted title of "Bullfrog," the official designation of the longest continually serving SEAL.
Nearly two decades since retiring from active duty, Boesch hasn't forgotten the importance of CPO leadership.
"The chief is in charge, there's no doubt about it. He's dressed different than the average Sailor and with that he presents authority," said Boesch. "It's a valuable [CPO] mess and it's good that we have it."
According to Vidaurri, the CPO legacy as deckplate leaders is just as relevant today as it was when Rudy served. It is important for all chiefs to take time to reflect on what being a CPO leader is all about.
"The common theme that I would like to send to all chief petty officers out there is commitment," said Vidaurri. "I'd like to use this day as a time for chiefs to take a look at ourselves just like the first time we put on that khaki uniform for the very first time."
For more news from Commander Fleet Activities Yokosuka, visit www.navy.mil/local/cfay/.