Navy chiefs celebrate 120 years of service
MARINE CORPS AIR STATION IWAKUNI, Japan -- Chief petty officers across the station celebrated 120 years of their rank at the R.G. Robinson Mess Hall here, April 1, 2013, during a cake-cutting and birthday celebration.
Congress established the rank of chief petty officer, one of the more recognized enlisted ranks in the Navy, April 1, 1893.
“This is a significant day, as all the chiefs all around the globe are celebrating,” said Master Chief Petty Officer Gilbert Ermitano, base Navy senior enlisted advisor.
Those who rate the title chief petty officer are seen not only as technical specialists, but leaders. That focus of leadership is why chiefs have achieved a rank respected by their subordinates and trusted by their senior leadership. This has also given rise to the adage of “chief knows.”
“The Navy chief … is the backbone of the Navy, as we provide leadership and guidance to run the Navy through good times and also challenging times,” said Ermitano. “It’s inherent in our position as the term ‘ask the chief’ is a household term in that it means seeking guidance, leadership and words of wisdom.”
The birthday celebration was not only a time for reflection on the illustrious history and contributions of chief petty officers, but also as a light to future generations of chiefs who will one day take the mantle.
“We are the mentors for our personnel under our charge and we make sure that they are provided the right tools, training and guidance as they will be our replacements and we want to set them up for success,” said Ermitano.
The legacy of the chief petty officer was reiterated by others in attendance.
“We have to set an example for the young sailors, so when they become the ones who lead, they know what to do,” said Chief Petty Officer Jose Afable, the Robert M. Casey Medical and Dental Clinic patient administration lead chief petty officer and administration officer. “It’s our job to make sure they become successful.”
The chiefs gathered at the mess hall where a white cake trimmed in blue and gold waited to be cut. The “saltiest,” or oldest chief present, Ermitano, and the most junior chief, Chief Petty Officer Maurene Comers, a Headquarters and Headquarters Squadron logistics specialist, garnered the honor of cutting the cake. Next, Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy Michael D. Stevens’ birthday message was read aloud. At the conclusion of the cake cutting, the chiefs cheered three times with the cry of “Navy chief! Navy pride!”
With 120 years of dutiful service under its belt, the chief rank shows no signs of losing its luster.