Story by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Rayburn

WESTERN PACIFIC- Chief petty officers (CPO) aboard USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) celebrated the 123rd birthday of the CPO rank, April 1.

This year’s celebration was organized into a series of events to commemorate the chiefs’ naval heritage.

Chiefs came together during a CPO only physical training session at 5 a.m. in the hangar bay followed by a recital of Anchors Aweigh at its completion. Afterward, CPOs took the place of junior Sailors to serve the crew lunch on both mess decks.

“I like doing things for the crew and just having some fun,” said Senior Chief Engineman Rob Zantow from Gillette, Wyo., who served lunch on both the forward and aft mess decks.
Later, CPOs hosted a birthday dinner and a cake cutting ceremony for ship and squadron leaders in the Chiefs Mess. The celebration culminated with a showing of the movie “Men of Honor.”

Chief petty officer was established on April 1, 1893. Prior to then and for many years thereafter, commanding officers could promote petty officers to acting appointments to fill vacancies in ship’s compliments. If service was satisfactory, the commanding officer could recommend to the Bureau of Navigation (Bureau of Personnel, BUPERS, after Oct. 1, 1942) that an individual be given a permanent appointment for the rate being served.

With more than a century of legacy, CPOs have had a significant influence on naval life. Chief petty officers are often referred to as deck plate leaders for the role they play in Sailors’ lives. They guide and train junior Sailors and officers, filling the role of a mentor.

According to Chief Legalman Tanica Bagmon from Fort Washington, Md., it is a chief’s job to set and maintain standards.

“[I like] the mentoring, being able to lead young Sailors,” said Bagmon. “It’s all about being able to pick Sailors up and guide them in the direction they should be going.”

Zantow said CPOs’ greatest responsibility is to train their reliefs. Chiefs are meant to help their junior Sailors find the right answers. It’s up to the current chiefs to help junior Sailors grow to fill the roles they leave behind.

“It’s not acceptable to say, ‘I don’t know’, and let it die, you have to say, ‘I don’t know, and I will get back to you,'” said Zantow. “No matter how trivial it might seem to you, it’s not trivial to the person that asked.”

According to Chief Aircrew Survival Equipmentman Carl Smith of Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 71, from Albemarle, N.C., the qualities that make a good chief can be adopted at all levels.

“You don’t ever accomplish your goals by yourself,” said Smith. “It’s not about trying to make chief, it’s about bringing everybody up with you. If you focus on the success of the team then everybody succeeds, not just one person.”

Providing a ready force supporting security and stability in the Indo-Asia-Pacific, John C. Stennis is operating as part of the Great Green Fleet on a regularly scheduled 7th Fleet deployment.

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