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  • Navy Chiefs

    On of my fellow Sailors wrote this piece and I felt the need to post it here. I think the Navy Chief is a heck of a lot like the Police Sgt. and therefore most of you on here will shed a small tear reading the truth in this piece.
    PK
    -----------------------------------------------------------------------
    One thing we weren't aware of at the time but it became evident as
    life wore on, was that we learned true leadership from the finest
    examples any lad was ever given - Chief Petty Officers.

    They were crusty old guys who had done it all and had been forged
    into men who had been time tested over more years than a lot of us
    had time on the planet. The ones I remember wore hydraulic oil
    stained hats with scratched and dinged-up insignia, faded shirts,
    some with a Bull Durham tag dangling out of their right-hand pocket
    or a pipe and tobacco reloads in a worn leather pouch in their hip
    pockets, and a Zippo that had been everywhere.

    Some of them came with tattoos on their forearms that would force
    them to keep their cuffs buttoned at a Methodist picnic. Most of
    them were as tough as a boarding house steak. A quality required to
    survive the life they lived. They were, and always will be, a breed
    apart from all other residents of Mother Earth. They took eighteen
    year-old idiots and hammered them into sailors.

    You knew instinctively it had to be hell on earth to have been born
    a Chief's kid as were my four sons. God should have given all sons
    born to Chiefs a return option.

    A Chief didn't have to command respect. He got it because there was
    nothing else you could give them. They were God's designated hitters
    on earth. We had Chiefs with fully loaded Combat Patrol Pins in my
    day...
    Hard-core bastards, who found nothing out of place with the use of
    the word 'Japs' to refer to the little sons of Nippon they had
    littered the floor of the Pacific with, as payback for the December
    7th party they gave us in 1941. As late as 1970 you could still hear
    a Chief Petty Officer screaming at y in bootcamp to listen to him,
    because if you didn't, the damn gooks would kill us. They taught me
    in those days, 'insensitivity' was not a word in a sailor's lexicon.
    They remembered lost mates and still cursed the cause of their
    loss...

    And they were expert at choosing descriptive adjectives and nouns,
    none of which their mothers would have endorsed. At the rare times
    you saw a Chief topside in dress canvas, you saw rows of hard-
    earned, worn and faded ribbons over his pocket.
    "Hey Chief, what's that one and that one?" "Oh Hell, kid, I think it
    was the time I fell out of a hookers bed; I can't remember.
    There was a war on. They gave them to us to keep track of the
    campaigns were in. We got our news from AFVN and Stars and Stripes.
    To be honest, we just took their word for it. Hell, son, you
    couldn't pronounce most of the names of the villages we went to.
    They're all gee-dunk. Listen, kid, ribbons don't make you a Sailor.
    The Purple one on top? OK, I do remember earning that one. We kn who
    the heroes were and in the final analysis that's all that matters."

    Many nights we sat in the after mess deck wrapping ourselves around
    cups of coffee and listening to their stories. They were
    lighthearted stories about warm beer shared with their running mates
    in corrugated metal hooches at rear base landing zones, where the
    only furniture was a few packing crates and a couple of Coleman
    lamps. Standing in line at a Philippine cathouse or spending three
    hours soaking in a tub in Bangkok, smoking cigars and getting
    loaded. It was our history. And we dreamed of being just like them
    because they were our heroes. When they accepted you as their
    shipmate, it was the highest honor you would ever receive in your
    life. At least it was clearly that, for me.

    They were not men given to the prerogatives of their position.
    You would find them with their sleeves rolled up, shoulder-to-
    shoulder with you in a stores loading party. "Hey Chief, no need for
    you to be out here tossin' crates in the rain, we can get all this
    crap aboard." "Son, the term 'All hands' means ALL hands." "Yeah
    Chief, but you're no damn kid anymore, you old fart." "Shipmate,
    when I'm eighty-five, parked in the old Sailors' Home in Gulfport,
    I'll still be able to kick your worthless *** from here to fifty
    feet past the screw guards along with six of your closest friends."
    And he probably wasn't bull****ting. They trained us! Not only us,
    but hundreds more just like us. If it wasn't for Chief Petty
    Officers, there wouldn't be any U.S. Naval Force.

    There wasn't any fairy godmother who lived in a hollow tree in the
    enchanted forest who could wave her magic wand and create a Chief
    Petty Officer. They were born as hot-sacking seamen and matured like
    good whiskey in steel hulls and steaming jungles over many years.
    Nothing a nineteen year-old jaybird could cook up was original to
    these old saltwater owls. They had seen E-3 jerks come and go for so
    many years, they could read you like a book.

    "Son, I know what you are thinking. Just one word of advice. DON'T!
    It won't be worth it." "Aye aye, Chief." Chiefs aren't the kind of
    guys you thank. Monkeys at the zoo don't spend a lot of time
    thanking the guy who makes them do tricks for peanuts.
    Appreciation of what the Chiefs did, and who they were, comes with
    long-distance retrospect. No young lad takes time to recognize the
    worth of his leadership. That comes later when you have experienced
    poor leadership or, lets say, when you have the maturity to
    recognize what leaders should be you find that Chiefs are the
    standard by which you measure all others. They had no Academy rings
    to get scratched up. They butchered the King's English. They had
    become educated at the other end of an anchor chain from Copenhagen
    to Singapore. They had given their entire lives to the United States
    Navy. In the progression of nobility of employment, CPO heads the
    list.

    So when we ultimately get our final duty station assignments and we
    get to wherever the big CNO in the sky assigns us, if we are lucky,
    Marines will be guarding the streets. I don't know about that Marine
    propaganda, but there will be an old Chief in an oil-stained hat, a
    cigar stub clenched in his teeth and a coffee cup that looks like it
    contains oil, standing at the brow to assign us our bunks and tell
    us where to stow our gear.

    And we will all be young again and the damn coffee will float a rock.
    Life fixes it so that by the time a stupid kid grows old enough and
    smart enough to recognize who he should have thanked along the way,
    he no longer can. If I could, I would thank my old Chiefs. If you
    all only knew what you succeeded in pounding into this thick skull,
    you would be amazed. So thanks, you old casehardened, unsalvageable
    sons-of-bitches.

    Chief, save me a rack in the berthing compartment!
    "Respect for religion must be reestablished. Public debt should be reduced. The arrogance of public officials must be curtailed. Assistance to foreign lands must be stopped or we shall bankrupt ourselves. The people should be forced to work and not depend on government for subsistence." - Cicero, 60 B.C.

    For California police academy notes go to http://groups.yahoo.com/group/CABasicPolice/

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