By Chief Mass Communication Specialist (SW/AW) Donnie Ryan, USS Ronald Reagan Public Affairs
Chief Petty Officers (CPO) from USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) and Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 14 took time out from conducting Composite Training Unit Exercises to gather in the ship's CPO mess April 1, to honor the 115th birthday of the chief petty officer rank.
The event included speeches, recognition of CPOs killed in combat, the honoring of famous chiefs throughout history who helped build the CPO mess, special food and entertainment.
"Today is our 115th birthday," said Ronald Reagan's Command Master Chief (SW/AW) Jim DeLozier. "We are joining chiefs around the world in celebrating 115 years of the fouled anchor and the deckplate leadership it represents.
"The CPO birthday is an annual recognition of who we are as chiefs, and a tribute to the chiefs who laid the foundation upon which our CPO mess is built," he said.
DeLozier said the special day calls for both celebration and reflection from members of the CPO mess.
"Today is also a day for those of us who wear the khaki uniform to reassess ourselves," added DeLozier. "It's important that we ask ourselves if we are living up to the expectations found in the CPO Creed."
Many CPOs put on their black ties and combination covers with their working khakis for the day as a throwback uniform to honor CPOs of the past.
"I am proud of where I came from and want everyone to know that," said Chief Postal Clerk (SW/AW) Mario Barco, who decided to wear the special uniform.
Several chief petty officers from Ronald Reagan and CVW-14 took active parts in the celebration.
"Anytime chief petty officers gather to celebrate our heritage or to bring new chiefs into the fold, we take the opportunity to reaffirm our commitment to the Navy, our mission and the Sailors we serve by reading the Chief Petty Officer Creed," said Chief Information Systems Technician (SW) Alvin Mitchell, who served as master of ceremonies for the event.
A traditional cake-cutting ceremony also took place featuring the oldest and youngest members of Ronald Reagan's CPO Mess.
"Making chief was my singular goal when I joined the Navy," said Chief Electronics Technician (SW/AW) Christopher Clark, who was born in 1981 and holds the honor of being Ronald Reagan's youngest CPO.
"For years I watched as people would come into my offices with a question, and the first thing they would do was scan the room for a chief," said . "Many would leave if they did not see one, while others would just ask 'When is chief gonna be back?'
"Regardless of whether I could help them, they had been trained to 'Ask the Chief'," added . "It's a position that warrants the envy that goes with it and it comes with a great amount of responsibility. I am up to the task. Shipmates, I am here, I am ready to help, 'Ask the Chief'".