Chief petty officers celebrate 124th birthday

A chief petty officer on March 27 renders honors to the wall of names honoring service members killed aboard USS Arizona during the Dec. 7, 1941 attacks on Pearl Harbor. U.S Navy photo by MC2 Somers T. Steelman

A chief petty officer on March 27 renders honors to the wall of names honoring service members killed aboard USS Arizona during the Dec. 7, 1941 attacks on Pearl Harbor. U.S Navy photo by MC2 Somers T. Steelman

MC2 Jeffrey Troutman

Navy Public Affairs Support Element Detachment Hawaii

In celebration of the 124th birthday of the chief petty officer (CPO), more than 400 CPOs from across the island of Oahu came together to conduct community relations projects, CPO 365 Phase I events, and history and heritage gatherings throughout the week of March 27 to April 1.

The CPOs celebrated the birth of their ranks by participating in events such as a wreath-laying ceremony aboard the USS Arizona Memorial, restoration projects at local men and women’s homeless shelters, and a CPO scholarship fund invitational golf tournament. The celebration week culminated with the 124th CPO Birthday Ball in Waikiki, March 31.

“One of the charges of the chief petty officer is to be responsible for keeping the heritage of the U.S. Navy alive and well,” said Command Master Chief David Carter, Commander Navy Region Hawaii.

“The birth of the chief petty officer rank is pretty historic in our Navy’s history, in that, no other branch of service has the cadre of leadership that the Navy does in our chief petty officers, so it’s important that we recognize that as we continue to uphold our Navy’s heritage.”

Carter said that becoming a CPO was one of his proudest days in a career that has spanned more than 30 years in the Navy, and he is sure that other CPOs share his passion for the anchor.

“My hope is that the chiefs who participate in the week celebrating the 124th birthday of the CPO walk away with a renewed sense of pride, heritage and an understanding of why we do what we do as CPOs.”

First class petty officers involved in the Navy’s CPO 365 Phase I program were afforded the opportunity to work alongside the CPOs during an athletic event, something Senior Chief Operations Specialist Pedro Lopez hoped would provide the first class petty officers insight into how to better lead their junior personnel.

“As CPOs, we’re ambassadors of the Navy’s heritage, and this week represents 124 years of lessons learned,” Lopez said.

“The CPO 365 program is run year-round, and having the chance to build that relationship with our Sailors is amazing.”

Chief Personnel Specialist Christina Rheaume echoed Lopez’s desire to see enlisted service members strive to be better leaders.

“This week always instills a sense of personal pride in me, not only because it represents the importance of the CPO Mess, but also all of the great things it has contributed throughout the years to the legacy of the Navy.”

On April 1, 1893, the rank of chief petty officer (CPO) was established in the Navy as the highest attainable rate an enlisted Sailor could earn, ushering a 124-year legacy of heritage in the U.S. Navy.

Since that day, the birth of the revered title is celebrated annually to honor the service of CPOs committed to developing their junior Sailors and instilling them with the Navy core values.

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