“Ask questions. There is always room for improvement in our organization. Bring new ideas to the table and be involved,” Potter advised junior Sailors. “Naval service will be challenging at times, but those challenges can be rewarding with a little motivation and perseverance. Be steadfast, goal oriented, and own whatever task you have been assigned.”
Originally from Renton, Wash., Potter said he joined the Navy 17 years ago to provide for his young family. Newly married with their first child, Potter said he knew the Navy would offer a career he could grow professionally while sustaining a life worthy for his family.
“My wife and kids inspire me the most and provide a needed separation between work and home,” Potter said. “My family encourages me to be the best version of myself possible. They inspire me to succeed so I can provide the life they deserve.”
Now married for 19 years, Potter and his wife Jenny have two sons and two daughters – Nixon, 17; Noah, 16; Reilyn, 12; and Jersie, 10.
“There is an uncommon strength in military families,” Potter explained. “The challenges that Navy spouses and dependents face are stressful, but provided our family opportunities to rely on each other and communicate better. My family is resilient and supportive. I wouldn’t be able to do what I do without my wife and kids.”
Since 2021, the Potter family has been serving from the island of Guam, a U.S. territory located in the Pacific Ocean approximately 1,600 miles south of Japan and 3,900 miles west of Hawaii. Assigned to Naval Base Guam, Potter is the leading chief petty officer of the base Security’s Harbor Patrol Unit. In this position, he leads 48 Sailors providing waterborne protection for all visiting and homeported vessels.
Potter is also a qualified tug master, and recently received the craft master insignia in support of the tenant command Submarine Squadron 15’s emergency tug operations. In addition, he is the base’s command fitness leader managing 240 Sailors, and training specialist of the base’s Shore Installation Management Basic Boat Coxswain (SIM BBC).
“I work with some of the most positive Sailors I have ever met,” Potter said of his fellow shipmates. “They are never afraid to tackle hard tasks with a smile and lead by example both in and out of uniform.”
In fact, it is his Sailors who make serving on Guam rewarding and professionally satisfying.
I enjoy getting on a harbor security boat with my Sailors training for real-world threats in one of the most beautiful locations the Navy has to offer,” he shared about the base, which he considers one of his most favored assignments due in large part to having the opportunity to serve overseas with his family by his side.
“Naval Base Guam is the first overseas location I have been able to bring my family to,” Potter explained. “The opportunities and life experiences we have gained here will stay with us throughout our lives.”
As a family man, Potter is committed to his role as a husband and father. As a chief, he is committed to the Navy’s mission and the success of his Sailors.
“The world seems to be in a perpetual state of chaos. I want to ensure my Sailors have the tools to thrive in heavy seas and have the skills necessary to defend our freedoms long after I am gone,” Potter said about his role as a Navy chief petty officer.
130 Years of Chief Pride
According to Potter, the Navy is consistently evolving, and so is the Chief’s Mess, which on April 1 celebrates the 130th birthday of the chief petty officer. Chiefs throughout the Navy are no longer sitting behind a desk writing FITREPs and counseling chits and updating instructions. Now more than ever, chiefs are connected and engaged with their Sailors at the deckplate level.
“Every day I am impressed by the strength of the mess,” Potter shared. “The worldwide connection and willingness to drop everything to help each other personally and professionally are unparalleled. When junior Sailors walk into our mess, we don’t let them leave until we answer their questions or connect them to the right resources. The phrase “ask the chief” was earned over these past 130 years and pushes me to be engaged with Sailors while providing effective mentorship.”
During this year’s milestone birthday, the Chief’s Mess of today celebrates the chiefs who came before them and paved the way for the past 130 years.
“Thank you for learning the hard lessons and passing on that wisdom,” Potter said to all past chiefs. “We continue to be a more efficient fighting force through those shared experiences.”
As the Navy’s most distinguished fraternity, the Chief’s Mess is ever more relevant and needed to deter aggression now and into the future. The continued legacy of the Chief’s Mess though will rely on those who come after Potter and his fellow brothers and sisters.
“Don’t wait until you are a chief to lead your Sailors the way you want to be led,” Potter advised junior Sailors. “Bring up concerns and issues so they can be addressed at the appropriate level. Set the standard every day and remember that you succeed when your Sailors succeed.”
The ability to watch junior Sailors grow into leaders taking on additional responsibilities and being recognized for their success is what Potter appreciates the most of being a chief petty officer in the Navy.
“I hope that I can make an impact on Sailors who are unsure about making the Navy a career,” Potter added. “It’s not for everyone, but I continue to share sea stories so first-term Sailors realize all the opportunities the Navy has to offer.”
Potter will move on to his next assignment in the summer of 2024. Although he is unsure where the Navy will take him and his family, he is looking forward to the next adventure and the next until he finally hangs up his cover.
“When that day comes, I hope I leave behind Sailors who are resilient, motivated, who desire to train hard, and be the subject matter experts,” said Potter.
Always an advisor to junior Sailors, Potter had these last words of wisdom to share, “Set realistic short-term and long-term goals that enhance personal growth. The stronger you are individually, the more you can contribute to the team.”