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Great Lakes Bulletin

Chiefs mark 121 years at Navy’s only boot camp

Chief petty officers (CPO) assigned to Recruit Training Command (RTC) and Naval Service Training Command (NSTC ) held a ceremony celebrating the 121st birthday of the chief petty officer at Midway Ceremonial Drill Hall, Tuesday.

The chiefs’ mess at RTC, one of the largest in the Navy, came together to honor the history and heritage of the CPO rank.

RTC is known as “The Quarterdeck of the Navy” and is the first stop for civilians who wish to become U.S. sailors. With 266 chief petty officers assigned to the command, the chief’s mess is charged with the preparation, training and mentorship for the newest members of the Navy as recruits undergo their 8-week basic training at the Navy’s only boot camp.

“The chief petty officers at Recruit Training Command set the example for what the standards and regulations will be for the future sailors of the Navy before they enter the fleet,” said Command Master Chief (CMC) Matthew Laing, CMC for RTC.

The celebration featured a cake-cutting ceremony with the oldest and youngest chief in attendance having the honor of cutting the cake. Chief Legalman Monica Brown represented the oldest chief in attendance and Chief Operations Specialist James Riley represented the youngest. The CPOs also formed together to create a human “121” for a photo opportunity.

The CPOs at RTC work in all capacities of training, whether it be as a Recruit Division Commander (RDC) who directly oversees the everyday sailorization of recruits, or as a staff member assigned to one of the many hands-on training facilities to prepare recruits for the fleet.

“The chiefs at Recruit Training Command complete the mission by making sure everybody is on the same page,” said Chief Hospital Corpsman Karon Jack. “We all know what to do as far as grooming sailors for the fleet, but here, we collaborate with one another as a team to become more effective and have greater productivity.”

RTC is a unique place to serve as no other command offers the opportunity to have the initial impact on a sailor’s career.

“Chiefs at RTC are the first to get in touch with the same sailors they will be serving with in the fleet,” said Laing. “There are a lot of leadership opportunities they will experience here that prepare them for the same things they will see in the fleet, making them a greater asset to the Navy.”

Chief petty officer is the seventh enlisted rate (E-7) in the U. S. Navy and U.S. Coast Guard, just above petty officer first class and below senior chief petty officer. The rate of chief petty officer is that of a senior non-commissioned officer, and was established on April 1, 1893 for the U.S. Navy. Congress first authorized the Coast Guard to use the promotion to chief petty officer on May 18, 1920. Chief petty officer is also the final cadet rate in the U. S. Naval Sea Cadet Corps.

Prior to 1958, chief petty officer was the highest enlisted rate in both the Navy and Coast Guard. This changed on May 20, 1958 with the passage Public Law 85-422, the Military Pay Act of 1958, which established two new pay grades of E-8 and E-9 in all five branches of the U.S. armed forces. In the Navy and Coast Guard, the new E-8 pay grade was titled senior chief petty officer and the new E-9 pay grade as master chief petty officer.

Training at RTC includes physical fitness, seamanship, firearms familiarization, firefighting and shipboard damage control, lessons in Navy heritage and core values, teamwork and discipline. More than 39,000 recruits graduate annually from RTC and begin their Navy careers.

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