By Mass Communication Specialist Chief Justin Stumberg
Seven first class petty officers from U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa (NAVEUR-NAVAF) and U.S. Sixth Fleet were pinned their gold-fouled anchors during a chief petty officer pinning ceremony at the Naval Support Activity (NSA) Naples Chapel, Nov. 19, 2021.
The chief petty officer grade (E-7), unique to the Navy, was issued through executive order by President Benjamin Harris on April 1, 1893. This order formalized a tradition whereby the senior, most experienced, rated sailor was known as the "chief,” designated by the commanding officer as the one in charge of his peers.
U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa Fleet Master Chief Derrick Walters served as one of the pinning ceremony’s guest speakers. Along with taking the opportunity to thank all those who helped make this year’s challenging initiation possible, he also reinforced key leadership points to the participants as they embark on their new journey as newly accepted chief petty officers.
“Serve with honor and integrity on and off the battlefield,” said Walters. “Your actions hold an even higher level of consequence, not only for yourself, but also for the Navy and Chiefs Mess as a whole. When you don the anchors, you will have more freedom to maneuver but less room for error.”
Walters stressed the importance of continuing the leadership excellence these new chiefs have displayed so far in their military career.
“Remember, there will be times to lead, whether that is officers, fellow chiefs, or junior Sailors,” said Walters. “Equally as important, Chiefs must be willing to follow those same groups. Above all, never quit and always push yourself and your teammates to win.”
Capt. James Adkisson, Director of Integrated Fires, U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa and U.S. Sixth Fleet, congratulated the new chiefs and reminded them of the impact of being accepted. Adkisson enlisted in the Navy in 1983, ultimately reaching the rank of chief petty officer before receiving his commission in 1996 as a cryptologic warfare officer.
“Congratulations on this, your day of days, when you can proudly respond to the title chief,” said Adkisson. “As you will surely hear through the words of the creed, you have earned it, but the entitlement belongs to the many who have helped you achieve this honored, this lifelong acceptance to the ‘Mess’.”
During his speech, Adkisson used a small mason jar with a chief’s anchor inside that was full of salt water from a recent underway into the Black Sea to emphasize the connection Sailors have with naval tradition. He also recited an original poem his created specifically for the occasion.
“I have taken a minor step – a charge if you will – to help you remember your climb up the hill,” said Adkisson “I have bathed your port side anchor in the depths of the Black Sea. It is my intention this gift rings you on the rise of adversity."
For the new chiefs, the ceremony marked the completion of a six-week induction process, often referred to as the “Season of Pride.” This induction culminated with CPO 365 Phase II training, which introduced new challenges designed to strengthen and enhance “deckplate” leadership.
One of this year’s newly pinned Chiefs, Yeoman Chief Luis Verdin, said the initiation process was incredibly valuable and eye-opening.
“Being inducted into the Mess is a feeling I can’t put into words,” said Verdin. “Even though I’ve worked incredibly hard in my career, it’s important to remember that I didn’t get here on my own and this ceremony isn’t about recognizing me or my individual accomplishments. It’s about honoring those who we’ve served with, made us better leaders, and helped us achieve things we didn’t think were possible.”
U.S. Sixth Fleet, headquartered in Naples, Italy, conducts the full spectrum of joint and naval operations, often in concert with allies, and interagency partners, in order to advance U.S. national interests and security and stability in Europe and Africa.