INDIAN OCEAN – The chief petty officers aboard amphibious assault ship USS Boxer (LHD 4) led more than 1,000 Sailors and Marines (LHD 4) during Boxer’s celebration of the 123rd birthday of the Navy chief petty officer, April 1.
The observance honored the contributions Navy chiefs have made throughout the years in leading, mentoring and training Sailors under their charge, and paid tribute to two recently deceased former Master Chief Petty Officers of the Navy (MCPON) - Robert J. Walker Sr. and William H. Plackett.
“Three things are indicative of what chief petty officers are: pride, professionalism, and paying it forward,” said Commander, Amphibious Squadron One Capt. Keith Moore. “You are the teachers, the mentors and role models for every single Sailor who joins the Navy, E-1 to O-10.”
Col. Anthony Henderson, commanding officer of the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit shared his perspective on the impact chiefs have in crafting leaders.
“You’re the nexus. You’re making chiefs, you’re making ship’s captains,” Henderson said. “Ensigns don’t make ships captains. It is the chief. That is the difference between us and other corps. You are the nexus and I ask you to never forget that in the most chaotic moment and in the most fun of times.”
During the ceremony Chief Navy Counselor Sarah Morales and Chief Electronics Technician Mary Williams gave remarks about the contributions MCPON Walker and MCPON Plackett made to the Navy.
“Both of them were MCPON during times of change not only in our nation but also in the military,” said Morales. “MCPON Walker was appointed at the end of the Vietnam era when many people viewed the military in a negative light. So, the way that he was able to inspire Sailors during that time was critical to our success.”
“MCPON Plackett had to form and shape the Navy during the mid 80s. He was big on training, professionalism and moving the Navy forward. He created the Command Master Chief training course and leadership courses that are required for advancement. He also changed the dynamic of what women were able to do in the military, creating more billets at sea and opening more jobs for them,” Williams added.
Boxer’s Command Master Chief Matt Ruane spoke of the timeless quality of the leadership attributes exemplified by the chief petty officer.
”One hundred and twenty three years ago today the Navy created the chief petty officer rank with a sole purpose of providing deckplate leadership for the junior Sailors,” said Ruane. “Today that still applies even though times change it still applies. As I take time and reflect about what this day is about I come back to one thought and that’s the sacrifice that all the Sailors and Marines make, and the sacrifice that their families make, I’m very appreciative and thank you very much for that.”
At the conclusion of the ceremony, the youngest and oldest chiefs performed a traditional cake cutting on the mess decks, followed by a group photo of chiefs in the ship’s forecastle.
Before April 1, 1893, chief was a title assigned by a commanding officer to the most senior first class petty officer in each rate. President Benjamin Harrison established the rank of chief petty officer Feb. 23, 1893 through General Order 409, which came into effect April 1, 1893.
The Boxer Amphibious Ready Group, 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit team is conducting operations in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operations during a scheduled deployment in support of security and stability in the Indo-Asia–Pacific region.