OKINAWA, Japan – Chief petty officers (CPO) aboard the guided-missile frigate USS Rueben James (FFG 57) made the 118th CPO birthday a day to remember on April 1, by doing more than patting each other on the back or eating cake in honor of the day.
Donning their traditional CPO khaki uniform, they observed colors as a group and recited the Sailor’s creed along with the chief’s pledge, as a way of honoring CPO’s past, present and future.
Rueben James’ Command Senior Chief Johanas Gonzales, explained the significance of the ceremony.
“What we’re doing here today is celebrating 118 years of unwritten leadership. Leadership that starts at the deck plates and ends at the deck plates,” Gonzales said.
Gonzales explained why the chiefs decided to celebrate the CPO birthday in this fashion.
“Being a chief is something special. I felt that this particular day was a good time to set and reflect on all the good things we contribute as chiefs,” said Gonzalez. “What better way to show the true meaning of our anchors than perform colors, recite the Sailor’s creed and CPO pledge?”
The tribute didn’t stop there. After lunch, the CPOs carried on with a traditional cake cutting ceremony performed by the oldest and youngest chief at the celebration.
Senior Chief Fire Controlman Lon Walters said cutting the ceremonial cake with the youngest chief was symbolically important, because it preserves the naval traditions of a chief, in passing the knowledge from one generation to the next.
“I appreciate where chiefs have come from, where we are going and what we represent,” said Walters. “This represents a transition that keeps us chiefs going.”
Chief Information System’s Technician (SW) Josh Hoffman echoed Walters.
“I’m honored to be able to help continue the heritage and legacy of CPO traditions,” said Hoffman.