Monday, August 28, 2017

Military "Bearing" at CPO Heritage Days 2017

After a morning of classroom training, chief petty officer selectees line up to depart the battleship Wisconsin (BB-64) under the guidance of current chiefs who helped run the 17th annual Chief Petty Officer (CPO) Heritage Days, hosted by the Hampton Roads Naval Museum with the support of National Maritime Center Nauticus in Norfolk, Virginia. (Photograph by M.C. Farrington)
Last week, the Hampton Roads Naval Museum wrapped up its 17th Annual Chief Petty Officer (CPO) Heritage Days, during which 798 first class petty officers who have been selected to become chief petty officers underwent training in naval history and the stories of famous CPOs of yesteryear in preparation for their advancement.  They also experienced quite a bit of intense, yet friendly competition among themselves. 
Fleet Master Chief Paul Kingsbury of United States Fleet Forces Command addresses chief petty officer selectees at Nauticus, the National Maritime Center that is also home to the battleship Wisconsin (BB 64) and the Hampton Roads Naval Museum.  Nearly 800 selectees, plus over 750 current and retired chief, senior chief and master chief petty officers converged on downtown Norfolk, Virginia, from August 22 through 24 during Chief Petty Officer Heritage Days.  (Photograph by M.C. Farrington)
Junior petty officers are typically "frocked" within days of being officially notified of their advancement in paygrade, sewing on their new rating badge relatively quickly after their selection.  Not so for chief petty officers, who undergo weeks of official and semiofficial rites of passage as selectees before their new anchors are pinned to their new khaki working uniforms.  After assembling ornate "charge books" to dutifully document their initiation-oriented tasks at the direction of "genuine" chief, senior chief and master chief petty officers, chief selectees virtually disappear from their regular lives into a khaki chrysalis until they reemerge for their pinning ceremonies.  Chief Petty Officer Heritage Days, held mainly aboard the museum battleship USS Wisconsin (BB 64), has become an important component of that transformation. 
Aboard USS Wisconsin (BB 64), Chief Aviation Structural Mechanic (Sel.) Caston Boyd holds a teddy bear representing another chief selectee from Fleet Readiness Center Mid-Atlantic, Chief Aviation Structural Mechanic (Sel.) Roman Blair. (Photograph by M.C. Farrington)
Although most of the selectees serving in the Mid-Atlantic region who were not actually on a deployment  were able to attend, one selectee who was unable to attend because of illness was vicariously carried around in the form of a Navy teddy bear by his fellow chief selectees from Fleet Readiness Center Mid-Atlantic.  According to Chief Aviation Structural Mechanic (Sel.) Caston Boyd, who was taking his turn bearing the bear of Chief Aviation Structural Mechanic (Sel.) Roman Blair, his fellow chief select had been informed of the selection board results only after landing in the hospital with what turned out to be a diagnosis of leukemia.  "He was on his deathbed for a minute, but he's fighting and in good spirits," said Boyd, who added that he and other members of his command had visited Blair at Duke University Medical Center in Durham, North Carolina, the week before.             
While helping support CPO Heritage Days, Senior Chief Aviation Administrationman Tiffanie Simpson pauses aboard USS Wisconsin (BB 64) with a crocheted doll of herself in uniform.  (Photograph by M.C. Farrington)
Not all of the chief petty officer analogues represented someone unable to be there personally.  Senior Chief  Aviation Maintenance Administrationman Tiffanie Simpson of the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command (SPAWAR), there to support the event, brought along her own likeness in the form of a doll that was made for her by crochet artist Aniqua Wilkerson.  She had already collected several dolls by the New York-based artist before deciding to have one of herself in uniform made, in her words, not to show off, but to show her pride in being in the Navy.  

One of many light moments shared between the mess competition judges, HRNM Exhibits Specialist Don Darcy, incumbent Director of Education Laura Orr, and retired Senior Chief Cryptologic Technician (Administrative) April Maletz. In this case, a two-member contingent from the destroyer Gonzalez (DDG 66) vies for the CPO Heritage Trophy. (Photograph by M.C. Farrington)
After the judging of the chief petty officer selectee mess and guidon competition on August 24, organizer Tom Dandes receives a hug from the guidon bearer of the Airborne Command, Control, and Logistics Wing (CACCLW) mess, Chief Aviation Michinist's Mate (Sel.) Martha Mendoza. The master of ceremonies for the competition, Chief Fire Controlman Erifili Marsolais, waits to present the CPO Heritage Trophy for that day. Winners of the competition on the two previous days included Naval Recruiting District (NRD) Philadelphia and NRD Richmond, Virginia(Photograph by M.C. Farrington)

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