CAMPO, Calif. -- A group of 10 chief petty officer (CPO) selectees from the staff of Commander, Naval Surface Forces U.S. Pacific Fleet (SURFPAC) visited the grave of Medal of Honor (MOH) recipient Lt. John W. Finn at Saint Carmel Cemetery in Campo, Calif., as part of CPO 365 Phase II training, Aug. 23.
Naval history and heritage are part of SURFPAC's CPO 365 Phase II training and are specifically included in the curriculum to help participants develop a sense of heritage, one of the seven guiding principles of a CPO.
During the visit, the group recited the Sailor's Creed at Finn's grave and took time to clean his headstone. CPO selectees also removed debris from the small rural cemetery, which is the final resting place for a large number of military veterans.
"We can learn from our past and teach our junior Sailors about naval history," said Chief (select) Information Systems Technician Eric L. Williams. "We need to honor our heroes from the past because they helped us get to where we are now."
Williams said he hopes to use his new role as a CPO to help teach naval history to junior Sailors in his division.
"We need to make sure heritage becomes part of our training so we can keep our traditions going," added Williams.
Finn received the MOH for his actions during the attack on Pearl Harbor during World War II.
As a chief aviation ordnanceman stationed at Naval Air Station Kaneohe Bay, Finn received the MOH for manning a machine gun from an exposed position throughout the attack, despite being repeatedly wounded.
At the time of his death in May 2010, Finn was the oldest living MOH recipient and the last living recipient of the 15 men who received the MOH from actions taken during the attack on Pearl Harbor.
The group of CPO selectees said they learned a lot about Finn, not just what he did while wearing the rank of a chief petty officer during the attack on Pearl Harbor.
"He was originally from the Los Angeles area, never finished high school, joined the Navy and went to boot camp in San Diego," said Chief (select) Religious Programs Specialist Maria Quintanilla. "Even while wounded he wouldn't leave his machine gun mount until he was ordered to do so and that makes him a true hero to all of us."
The CPO 365 training program was first launched in 2010, under then Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy (MCPON) Rick West. Current MCPON Michael D. Stevens revised the program, amending course curriculum and reinforcing a year-round training schedule for all first class petty officers.