Leadership through a Sailor’s eyes: Airman enrolls in Navy CPO course

USS Missouri CPO Legacy Academy Class 016 lead coordinator Senior Chief Information Systems Technician Dan Hallman salutes the flag during the national anthem played at the Chief Petty Officer (CPO) Legacy Academy’s graduation aboard the Battleship Missouri Memorial Aug. 23 on Ford Island. Photo by MC2 Somers T. Steelman

1st Lt. Kaitlin Daddona

15th Wing Public Affairs

When Air Force Tech. Sgt. Paul “Chip” White enrolled into the all-Navy Chief Petty Officer Phase 2 Program at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, he had no idea he would join the ranks of a brotherhood.

White, the network implementation manager at the Defense Information Systems Agency, Pacific (DISA PAC), was the only Airman selected to participate in the Navy’s rigorous initiation, a program designed to build leadership and instill confidence, humility and accountability to newly selected Sailors to the rank of chief petty officer.

“This was an opportunity for me to see how the Navy operates, and to be able to effectively interact with Sailors by knowing a little more about their culture and how they operate from a senior non-commissioned officer level,” White said.

The program is set in a professional education and training environment, and challenges team and individual toughness, evaluates performance, and cultivates a culture of humility, trust and loyalty. Candidates are challenged for 43 days (weekends included) with team building, physical training, and various leadership scenarios aimed at strengthening leadership.

White, who works in a joint environment and interacts with Navy personnel on a daily basis, said he learned important traits of being a leader that will contribute to his career as a senior non-commissioned officer (NCO), when he pins on the rank of Master Sergeant early next year.

“I learned a lot about being able to lean on people and building a rapport,” White said. “I learned that it’s important to not just stay inside your box. The way the chiefs operate and interact is pretty special to see.”

Chief Master Sgt. Christopher Gradel, senior enlisted leader at DISA PAC, said he chose White for the opportunity based on his stellar performance in his day-today duties as well as his outstanding potential as a soon-to-be senior NCO.

“I work in a joint environment and value how the Navy prepares their Sailors to transition to E7,” Gradel said. “I made phone calls and talked to the folks running this and made sure my Airman was going to participate for the experience, not the EPR bullet.”

White was also one of three candidates hand-selected for the legacy academy aboard the Battleship Missouri Memorial, a six-day course woven into the overall CPO training. At the culmination, the Sailors surprised their sole Airman teammate by singing the Air Force song, a surprise White said solidified his brotherhood with his Navy counterparts.

“It was pretty cool that they rallied around the Air Force guy, and truly accepted me into their family,” White said.

White said that the experience will contribute to his future success as an Air Force leader.

“The way they prepare their Sailors for the next level of leadership is pretty incredible,” he said. “If anyone has the opportunity to do anything like this they should absolutely take it. I’ve grown a lot in the past six weeks.”

The training concluded Sept. 15.

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