WASHINGTON (NNS) -- Retired Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy (MCPON) William "Bill" H. Plackett died peacefully the evening of March 4. He was 78.
Plackett became the sixth MCPON Oct. 4, 1985. He relieved Billy C. Sanders and held the job for three years before Duane R. Bushey assumed duties in September 1988.
Plackett was born in Paxton, Illinois, and joined the Navy at the age of 19 in 1956. He attended radioman "A" school in Norfolk and was assigned to the Naval Control of Shipping Office in Bahrain in the Persian Gulf. He served tours aboard Commander, Amphibious Force, U.S. Atlantic Fleet embarked upon amphibious force command ship USS Mount McKinley (AGC 7), and Commander in Chief, Allied Forces Southern Europe in Naples, Italy. Following those tours he reported to radioman "B" school, and was then assigned to Representative, Commander East Force/Naval Control of Shipping Office during the Arab-Israeli War.
Eleven years after joining the Navy, Plackett was advanced to chief petty officer in September 1967. He completed successful tours aboard aircraft carrier USS Forrestal (CV 59), as an instructor at the radioman "B" school in Bainbridge, Maryland, and while enrolled in the Associates Degree Completion Program (ADCOP) in Pensacola, Florida, he was advanced to senior chief petty officer.
After graduating with honors in December 1972, he was awarded an academic scholarship to the University of West Florida, where he graduated Magna Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Science in vocational education. Following a second tour aboard Forrestal, he was advanced to master chief petty officer and assumed duties as director of the Communications School, Fleet Training Center, Norfolk. In 1979, he was named Command Master Chief for Commander, Training Command, U.S. Atlantic Headquarters, and subsequently became the first Force Master Chief of the Atlantic Fleet Training Command in July 1981. One year later he was selected as Fleet Master Chief of U.S. Atlantic Fleet, under the helm of Adm. Harry Train.
Plackett was selected for MCPON in the fall of 1984.
During his time in office, he was the driving force behind many initiatives including easily accessible training for command master chiefs, ensuring they're well-prepared for their leadership roles; leading women's equal opportunity and integration throughout the force with an emphasis on eliminating sexual harassment; and enforcing the High Year Tenure policy, allowing Sailors upward mobility throughout the ranks.
Additionally, Plackett and his wife Karen hosted the first spouse conference which discussed eight specific areas of concern for Navy families: the impact of limited family housing; the effectiveness of family service centers; spouse perceptions on quality of life issues; the effectiveness of Navy publications; internal information; spouse employment issues; the Family Advocacy Program; and overseas screening. As a result, OPNAVINST 1752.2, detailing the Navy's position and guidance for operating the Family Advocacy Program was issued, establishing many of the programs used today.
On the eve of his retirement he was asked about the challenges he faced as MCPON.
"The challenge as master chief petty officer of the Navy is to face that new situation, deal with each with dignity, and overcome the problem," he said. "My goal as MCPON was to do these three years and finish knowing that I have not made any chief petty officer ashamed of being a chief," said Plackett.
"Hearing the news of MCPON Plackett's passing was difficult," said current MCPON Mike Stevens. "Bill was instrumental in tackling some of our Navy's most challenging issues. If legacy is the lantern that lights the path for others to follow, there is no doubt in my mind that Bill's path shines brightly today for all Sailors."
Following his retirement on Sept. 9, 1988, Plackett and his wife returned to their home in Virginia Beach, Virginia, where he worked in the private sector, and remained an active component of the Navy community.
"The Plackett family is in Theresa and my prayers, and we offer our deepest condolences during this most difficult time," said Stevens.
He is survived by his wife, Karen Plackett, of 53 years; his children, Cheryl White, Richard, Julia, and Brian. He leaves behind seven grandchildren, and two great grand children.
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