SAN DIEGO (NNS) -- Chief petty officer (CPO) selectees from commands throughout Navy Region Southwest graduated from the first USS Midway (CV 41) CPO Legacy Academy in San Diego, Aug. 31.
During the graduation ceremony held on the ship's flight deck, the 36 participants were recognized with a certificate and commemorative coin presented by the program organizers.
The CPO Legacy Academy was a six-day training period held Aug. 26-31 in conjunction with FY-2013 CPO induction season and was designed to help the Sailors develop a stronger sense of naval heritage, which is part of the mission, vision and guiding principles of the rank of CPO.
Under the direction of the U.S. Pacific Fleet Master Chief, the Midway CPO Legacy Academy was modeled after similar leadership programs offered on board the historic USS Constitution in Boston, as well as the USS Missouri (BB 63) Museum at Pearl Harbor.
"The Midway was a target of opportunity in that we could offer these Sailors a chance to work, learn and live aboard a historic carrier in a city full of historical significance itself," said U.S. Pacific Fleet Master Chief (SW/AW) John Minyard, who helped create the Midway program and served as the guest speaker for the ceremony. "It's important that we learn our heritage but also give back to the public."
During their stay aboard Midway, the group 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. Participants also toured several local commands to learn about many different naval warfighting missions.
For one CPO Select who had only experienced submarines for his entire career, the program served as an awakening.
"This experience exposed me to all the other Navy forces and their specific mission which puts everything into a bigger picture for me to digest," said Chief (Select) Electronics Technician Brandon D'Angelo. "I thoroughly enjoyed living on board a ship for the first time, but my favorite experience by far was visiting the Naval Special Warfare Center and getting to do the obstacle course with Navy SEALS."
Other participants said the history and heritage lessons were the highlight of the week-long program.
"Gaining the experience and history of this week along with the mentorship provided by the Chiefs Mess is immeasurable," said Chief (Select) Yeoman Anthony Carillo. "I feel extremely fortunate to have been given this opportunity. It was truly eye-opening to see how much history there is in San Diego and I will remember this week for the rest of my life."
Chief (Select) Information Systems Technician Brandon Irby said that throughout the week he learned what is meant by the phrase "Chiefs make it happen."
"This was the best week of my entire career," said Irby. "I'm extremely grateful for all the hard work and coordination by the chiefs to make this a reality for us."
For the museum, having the CPO Selects live and work on board all week was equally gratifying.
"The goal of the Midway Museum has always been to help bring the Navy to the public and we literally were able to do that this week," said retired Master Chief Jerry Nichols, a docent with the aircraft carrier museum. "Our visitors appreciated seeing the CPO selectees work and spend time out here, and to have them assist with preservation by painting the ship and rehabbing spaces after hours greatly helped us. We look forward to this in the continuing years to come."
Plans are currently be made to ensure the Midway CPO Legacy Academy continues for many years to come.
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For more news from Navy Region Southwest, visit http://www.navy.mil/local/cnrsw/.