BREMERTON, Wash. (NNS) -- Naval Hospital Bremerton celebrated the 119th birthday of Navy chief petty officers March 30 by remembering those currently deployed and honoring those who have given the ultimate sacrifice in defense of the nation.
There have been 35 chief petty officers who have died supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom, Operation New Dawn, and Operation Enduring Freedom from March 2002 to the present. Additionally, Chief Hospital Corpsman Shawn Kenney, Chief Hospital Corpsman Keith Davis, Chief Hospital Corpsman Gilberto Garcia, and Chief Hospital Corpsman Juan Guedea of NHB are forward deployed to various locales.
"It was on April 1, 1893 that Navy General Order 409 of Feb. 25, 1893, established the rate of chief petty officer. The legacy lives on 119 years later with the 38 current staff members who wear the anchors on their uniform, with the approximately 30 retired staff members who have worn the anchors on the cloth of our nation, and with those who will advance to the rank of Navy chief petty officer," said Chief Operations Specialist Adrian Alegria, Substance Abuse Rehabilitation Program counselor and master of ceremony of the birthday.
"We all know the old saying that if you want something done in the Navy, get a chief to do it. I would add that chiefs are also the repository of pride, standards and integrity. They continue to set those standards and the standards of honor and what it means to serve," said Capt. Christopher Culp, NHB commanding officer.
Senior Chief Logistics Specialist Edward Lange, acting NHB command master chief, read birthday wishes from Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy Rick D. West. Retired Chief Hospital Corpsman Steve Jackson shared the birthday message from Force Master Chief S.E. Boss and Chief Hospital Corpsman Noel Gravina presented the Chief Petty Officer Creed.
Chief Information Systems Technician Jennifer Clem then explained to assembled staff members, beneficiaries and friends that it is always customary at Navy birthday celebrations to cut a traditional cake in celebration of the birth of the specific organization.
"The chiefs are no exception to the rule. The traditional cake-cutting is done by our oldest and youngest Sailor. I'm proud to introduce Aviation Maintenance Administrationman Master Chief Angela Mattison-Lindbom, who enlisted in the Navy in 1984 and made chief in 1995. Our youngest chief is HMC (Chief Hospital Corpsman) Philip Nacionales, who enlisted in the Navy in 1996 and made chief in 2011," said Clem.
"Our oldest chief passes a piece of sliced cake first to the younger, signifying the passing of experience and knowledge from the old to the young of our organization, and also further emphasizing the fact that we care for our young Sailors before we look to our own needs."
Nacionales, current senior enlisted leader at Branch Health Clinic Everett took some good-natured ribbing from enlisting in the Navy the year after Mattison-Lindbom became a chief. "But being involved in this ceremony is an overwhelming experience. When I made chief, I realized that it wasn't all about me. Being a chief is being part of something much bigger. It is an honor and privilege. This event just keeps that feeling going," he said.
Also present for the birthday celebration was retired Chief Boatswain's Mate Jerry Irvine, who served his nation for 21 years, on nine different ships, with three tours in Vietnam, including River Section 523 in the Mekong River Delta, and River Section 521 near Hue City, and retired Chief Storekeeper Gene Hanson, with a Navy career of 22 years that spanned three decades with involvement in World War II, the Korean War and Vietnam War.
"After this is over, I think we both can take early liberty, if our wives let us," said Irvine.
On the eve of the 119th birthday, Cmdr. Doug Stephens, Branch Health Clinic Everett, David R. Ray Health Center officer-in-charge, shared a bit of Navy history with his staff. "This is a true story. Fleet Admiral William F. "Bull" Halsey was one of our greatest Sailors. On one occasion, he was piped aboard a ship and through sideboys. One of the sideboy's was a chief petty officer. When passing the chief, Fleet Admiral Halsey winked at the chief, then continued on his way. When Fleet Admiral Halsey was asked why he winked at the chief, the admiral stated, 'son, because I know chiefs got me where I am today.'
"From the time that I have been in the Navy, I have been told three objectives of the chief petty officer: To train and guide junior officers, to develop them into leaders; To train and develop our subordinates into future leaders; and to utilize all fellow CPO's experience and wisdom, in addition to technical expertise, when trying to solve problems and achieve the command's mission. Thank you to all the chiefs that have helped me along the way to a wonderful and satisfying career. Happy birthday chiefs!" said Stephens.
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For more news from Naval Hospital Bremerton, visit www.navy.mil/local/nhb/.