by MC3 Geoffrey P. Barham
SASEBO, Japan (Sept. 4, 2019) “I turned on the soft music and cut off all the lights,” said Navy Career Counselor 1st Class Skieshia Church, who was waiting to see if she attained the rank of chief petty officer. “In my head I was a nervous wreck.”
Chief petty officer results were announced to eligible 1st class petty officers onboard Commander, Fleet Activities Sasebo by a telephone call from Command Master Chief Rudy Johnson on August 1, 2019.
“At 0013, my phone wakes me from my sleep and I’m instantly filled with all types of emotion,” said Church, who also said she was so excited that she had to ask if the congratulations was serious and immediately called her father after, leaving her unable to fall back asleep until 0400 due to the excitement.
Immediately following the announcement begins the chief initiation process commonly referred to as the “Chief Season.” According to a quote in Navy Times, Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy Russell Smith states the chief season is a well-constructed and orchestrated executive senior leadership development program that teaches selectees to navigate adversity, foster a culture of leadership, build teamwork and grow both personally and professionally.
“We provide in-class training and physical training in accordance with developing the back bone of the Navy and ‘laying the keel’ of future deck plate leadership,” said Master-at-Arms Senior Chief Jay Knox, the lead chief initiation coordinator of CFAS FY20. “Every member selected takes the process differently.”
“Chief season is nice. It is, for me, full of lessons that I need to learn to embark on this new journey as well as a time to meet new people to learn, network and work as one,” said Church.
Networking is a core attribute of becoming a chief, as Knox and Church both describe the Chief Mess network as extensive and reliable.
“Being a chief means my hands can reach around the world,” said Knox. “The Mess is an amazing network that leaves no doubt in my mind that I have brothers and sisters around the world I can count on.”
The Chief Season culminates into a ceremony where the selectees finally don their anchors and covers and attain the rank of chief petty officer after weeks of being referred to as “chief select.”
“The pinning is very satisfying and impressive to watch. It’s a major milestone in someone’s career and getting to accept them into the Mess and begin working with them is great,” said Knox and says it is his favorite part of the season.
However, becoming a chief does not mean simply an increase in pay. Knox said his first year as a Chief was one of his most difficult since being in the Navy.
Church said she does not know what difficulties she will face once she finishes the season, but that the growing pains are akin to that of reaching adulthood and harshly realizing greater responsibilities.
According to the Navy History and Heritage Command, the chief petty officer, as recognized today, was officially established April 1, 1893, when the rank “petty officer first class” was shifted to “chief petty officer.” Chiefs are recognized for exemplary technical expertise within their rating, superior administrative skills, and strong leadership ability.
CFAS is slated to host its chief pinning ceremony Sept. 13, 2019.
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For more news from CFAS, visit https://www.cnic.navy.mil/regions/cnrj/installations/cfa_sasebo.html.