Saturday, May 5, 2012

From the archives

Some many years ago I served as a Defense Attorney for a Shipmate during Chief Petty Officer's initiation in Monterey, California.  It was my privilege to be there and I was honored that the Chiefs Mess allowed my limited participation.  I was a Lieutenant at the time and it was my seventh Chiefs' initiation.  For some reason my performance as Defense Attorney never improved, despite the years of experience.  Like the selectees, I went in afraid each time.  Those were some truly remarkable men - those Navy Chiefs.


Anonymous said...

All the while you tell us to "Anchor Up"

Anonymous said...

I can not imagine having an event like that in today's Navy. It would only require one disgruntled Sailor to call in an IG complaint and report the event as a form of hazing. Those days are gone!!!! If you are brave enough to press forward with events like this one today, then you do so at your own peril.

Anonymous said...

Seems the Navy Chiefs of that era are long gone.

Curtis said...

I too served as defense counsel for a new CPO at Monterrey back in 1988. It was my second time up so I wriggled. I told the ENS he needed a license to practice law and the best license was the one off the Master Chief's car. I told the court that the XO was the legal officer and thus far more likely to get my client off since he was obviously guilty as hell. It was a fun time until the Balut came out.

Mike Lambert said...

@ Anon 5:39 AM

My "Anchor Up" Chiefs is a rallying call to the Chiefs of today to continue to be the advocates for our Sailors that I remember from my White hat and junior officer days. I know who great they can be and would like to see a return to greatness. There was a day when what the Chief said was law and there was no need for any further discussion. Today, in many cases, not even the Captain can lay down the law. "Anchor Up" is meant as a positive call to duty - not so much a criticism.

CWO4 Brian L. Ashpole, USN-Retired said...

It is sad that CPOs are now "Inducted" instead of Initiated into the mess. The advent of the CPO 365 (in my opinion) represents failure. Junior Officers no longer serve as defense counsels, therefore, the bond between the CPO and JO appears to be less of a chain link and more of a piece of easily parted small stuff.

Anonymous said...

" the bond between the CPO and JO" What is the bond? Most CPO have a Bachelors Degree and many have Masters degrees. There really is no difference other than the snot-nosed ENS looks down his nose at the CPO because the CPO is enlisted. The line is blurred. What is the difference between a CPO and a JO?

Now an LDO is a different animal and has the experience and the education..however they are still looked down upon.

Anonymous said...

Captain Lambert,

Some of the members of today’s Navy have no idea what it meant for a new CPO to be initiated, or for an Officer to be invited to defend one of those slackers. Your words tell of the appreciation you had for what took place. But those uninitiated will never know what that day really meant.

Very Respectfully,

CWO4 Brian L. Ashpole, USN-Retired said...

For Anon at 1653:

I'm not sure of your background but have heard on numerous occasions the statement concerning education in the CPO mess. I'm willing to wager that most CPOs don't have degrees - a good portion do, but not most. Provide the empirical evidence and I'll be persuaded.

There is a huge difference between the CPO and the Commissioned Officer. U.S. Navy regulations is pretty clear. I recommend that you read them. I had a department head that required us to annually review them and sign a statement to that effect - thanks Captain Ed Williamson, USN-Retired. You taught me to think critically and ask leading questions.

To refer to an Ensign as snot-nosed is degrading and disrespectful to him or her and the commission that he or she holds.

The bond between CPO and JO refers to UNITY OF COMMAND. To quote the words of Master Chief Jerry Danforth (the CMC who was responsible for my initiation into the mess): "The first place I look when I see a Junior Officer failing is his Chief. If the Officer is failing, then the CPO is failing him and the division he is responsible to the division officer for."

Those are heavy words and they had meaning then and they have meaning now.

Navy Grade 36 Bureaucrat said...


The best saying I've heard is:

Officers run the Navy
Enlisted make the Navy run

Everybody has a role to play. My job has always been to have the vision of where we want to be in the future. I try to find the new, better way of doing business to best execute our mission.

My chiefs help me execute that vision. They know what has and hasn't worked in the past, and they give me great input into making the place around us better.

I wouldn't be where I'm at without good chiefs. My current detachment chief and I are darn near bound at the hip at times. While I am finding better ways to do things, she is constantly finding ways to make my ideas happen. We make a darn good team, and our sailors have profited considerably because of it.

Any ensign that looks down at his or her chief for being enlisted is a fool. It's a team effort, and the sooner we focus on working as a team and executing our roles, the better off we'll be.

Anonymous said...

Anchor Up?? How about Officer UP...with these CO firings going on sounds like the Officer need the catch phase more than the Chief's Mess.

Anonymous said...

How about "Shut Up"? Does that work for you?

Anonymous said...

It's clear the Cheifs new what this was. Kangaroo court. Look it up.

Submarine Ordnance LDO CDR (Ret) said...

Chief's initiation was one of the more memorable events of my Navy career. Throughout the rest of my time in the Navy I would recall the CPO creed's words when facing tough decisions and difficult times. The part that says you will be forced to endure adversity far beyond that experienced during the initiation was more truthful than I'd have preferred to experience. Another sentence in the CPO creed mentions how the life of the new CPO has changed forever. Very true with the new uniform and those anchors, and a member of a group respected professionals. The only more significant change was moving from the CPO ranks to the officer ranks. My defense attorney was our SUPPO (submariner) and he drank more truth serum than I did!

cticret said...

As Submarine LDO CDR (Ret) said, my Chief's Initiation was my proudest moment also. Those words in the Chief's Creed meant everything. I found out how important they were two weeks later when I found out that I was assigned as CACO for one of our sailors that we lost by receiving a phone call from the CDO in Washington looking for the Casualty Report. After I got off the phone, I called my OIC to find out why I hadn't been notified earlier. He told me it was late and he was going to call me the next morning. Thus began my job of "training the junior officers". I told him that I didn't care how late it was and that if my name was going on a message, I needed to be notified. It was an important moment for both of us. I came to be his go-to Chief and at the same time I got to learn from a very good officer. I carried that on through to my retirement. My officers and enlisteds knew my one rule: do not ever hesitate to call me if you need help or advice. I'd like to think I did my job well. Only those that served with me could truly tell you. The point is, it's a two way street. The Chief needs to his/her job and the officers need to understand that we all want the same result: success.

Anonymous said...

Captain Lambert,

To me it is very gratifying to see that the old hands posting on ILTCOHJ appreciate the Chiefs and the traditions of a Navy long gone, these things were important to all of us who served in the Navy in the past, I have looked around a lot and I have found that civilians do not seem to bond with what they spent their working lives doing. But when I think about my time in the Navy and the Shipmates that I served with, a number of which I still communicate with on a regular basis, they are both Officer and Enlisted by the way, and the conversation always turns to the times we had as Navymen, those times were mostly positive from the viewpoint of all these Shipmates, and myself. Everyone has to spend their life doing something and I am pleased that I could spend most of my working life as a Navyman and a Chief Petty Officer.

Very Respectfully,
E. A. Hughes, FTCM(SS)
U.S. Navy (Retired)