OAK HARBOR, Wash. (NNS) -- Naval Air Station (NAS) Whidbey Island chief petty officers (CPOs) commemorated the 117th birthday of their rank April 1.
Approximately 200 CPOs from around the installation began the day with a breakfast at the CPO Club. This was followed by the CPOs standing in formation for the raising of morning colors.
"Every chief is reminded, especially on this day, where we come from. Everybody that was out there this morning, I think we all felt the same thing, the pride that we all feel in being chiefs ... It was a real honor to be out there this morning," said Senior Chief Electronics Technician (SW) Terry Carter, NAS Whidbey Island Ground Electronics Maintenance Division leading CPO.
"Being a chief is what most people strive to be once they join the Navy because that is a standout position; not only because of the uniform, but our leadership role," said Senior Chief Culinary Specialist (SW/AW) Sammy Beauchamp, Admiral Nimitz Dining Hall leading culinary specialist. "As a recruit, you see the chief leading the company; that's where I started wanting to be one of them."
NAS Whidbey Island Command Master Chief (AW/SW) Darin Hand reminded those in attendance not only to remember to look to the past, but to the future of the rank.
"There is no other service that has a paygrade like chief petty officer, and it talks about that in our creed. In five months, it'll be here before we know it, we'll be inducting those new chief petty officers. My challenge to you is to take our birthday today to reflect on those chiefs that have gone before us; the folks that have left us our legacy, but also take a look at those first classes out there that are board eligible and start getting them ready," said Hand.
According to those in attendance, the presence of so many CPOs provided networking opportunities within the mess.
"Command Master Chief Hand is just trying to get everyone back together. Just like MCPON [Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy (SS/SW) Rick] West said, we want to get back to basics," said Carter. "We want to get back to building camaraderie with NAS (Whidbey Island), with the squadrons, with everybody else, we're one mess throughout the Navy, and I think that's the message the leaders of the CPO mess want to project."
"It goes with the spirit of one team, one fight. If you don't have communication amongst the team then you're not going to have enough cohesiveness to support everything you want to do," said Beauchamp. "It's great to be a Navy chief."
During lunch, CPOs volunteered to hand out cake to junior personnel at the Admiral Nimitz Dining Hall in recognition of the day.
"As a chief, your role is supporting junior officers and junior enlisted. We help Sailors throughout many difficult situations in life, training them to be a good petty officer and becoming a good chief petty officer. For a lot of the junior officers, the chiefs train them also," said Carter. "I, personally, take pride in helping out any junior person because I remember I didn't always make the right decisions in life, but I had that chief there to help me out through a lot of stuff. So, I try to give back through leadership."
For more news from Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, visit http://www.navy.mil/local/naswhidbey/.