Go ask the new chiefs

16 Sep 2010 | Lance Cpl. Barrera

On Sept. 16, 23 sailors from Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune and its tenant commands were inducted into one of the most coveted enlisted ranks in the Navy, chief petty officer. The promotion happens once a year and is an event chiefs from across the Navy remember.

The ceremony started with an introduction about the symbolism of the chief petty officer rank, which is an eagle perched over three chevrons topped off with three rockers. The cap and collar device, which was pinned on the new chiefs was a is a fouled gold anchor entwined with an anchor chain and superimposed with the letters "USN" in silver.

“The U stands for unity, the S for service to God, man and Navy, and the N stands for navigation, to remind them to keep true to the course,” said a sailor participating in the induction ceremony. “The fouled anchor reminds them to abide by their station amidst a storm of persecution, the anchor to symbolize their flexibility and strength and serves to remind the chief that the chain of life is forged day-by-day, link-by-link.”

The inductees had come a long way and gone through many challenges to reach this point. They were chosen from a group of their own peers, and each was sponsored by a chief or higher who would help lead and train them even after they have received their new rank.

The speaker also went over the history of a chief petty officer’s charge book. The book was first used in World War II. The inductees would write down details of daily life and leadership and accountability, eventually the collection of notes and study material came to be called a charge book.

Today's charge book is treated with respect and as a badge of honor. When chief petty officer’s initiation season is over, it becomes a treasured keepsake and the repository for the accumulation of the most precious of their career photos and mementos.

Then came the moment of the ceremony for which every inductee was waiting. One by one, each petty officer 1st class was called forward to stand before the crowd and have their new rank pinned on by their relatives or fellow sailors. They then walked between the side boys, chiefs who were stationed by either side of the aisle, and saluted as they were welcomed into the chief’s mess.

“This is not just a pay- grade; it’s more than 115 years of accepting responsibility beyond the printed format,” said Chief Petty Officer Virgil Flint, master of ceremonies for the event. “When everyone else used to say ‘Go ask the chief,’ well now you are the chief.”

Throughout the crowd, service members and families cheered as the newly promoted chiefs took their place in a hallowed rank throughout the Navy.

“It’s always good to welcome a chief into our ranks; this is always a memorable day for each one that got promoted,” said Chief Petty Officer Vincent Soto, a hospital corpsman with Naval Personnel Command, Millington, Va.

One newly promoted chief said it was his greatest accomplishment.

“It feels great; it gives you a sense of pride,” said Chief Petty Officer Dexter Raysor, a special operations independent duty corpsman with Marine Corps Forces, Special Operations Command. “I’m ready to go back to my unit, hit the ground running and uphold the chief tradition.”