MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. --
U.S. Marine Corps Gunnery Sgt. Matthew Earle, an infantry unit leader with 6th Marine Regiment, 2d Marine Division, earned his combination cover after completing the six-week chief training process, while his father, U.S. Navy retired Senior Chief Petty Officer Stanley Earle, watched as his son became a third generation chief petty officer on Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, September 29, 2023.
“Seeing my son go through the chief training is the proudest moment of my life,” said Stanley. “He has completed all the requirements just like his father and grandfather.”
Matthew, a Manassas, Virginia native, chose to step up to the challenge in honor of his father. Stanley, a Charleston, South Carolina native, was there for his son throughout the process as a constant source of support.
The chief’s mess is a long-standing tradition, which has been around for 130 years. The training’s purpose is to create a core group of Sailors who can lead, advocate and communicate with junior enlisted service members.
“I have seen the impact of the chief's mess as a child and as an active duty Marine,” said Matthew. “I wanted to be a part of something that held that same level of commitment.”
Chief selectees are required to complete the training before being promoted, but it is voluntary for Marine Corps gunnery sergeants.
When Matthew was promoted to gunnery sergeant, his father Stanley told him, “You're still not a chief.” Matthew finally understood the weight of that statement after becoming one of four gunnery sergeants to earn the title chief during the pinning ceremony.
“I think more Marines should go through the training process,” said Matthew. “Both services should be willing to learn from each other to ensure that our service members are served and led by the best versions of ourselves.”
Matthew, like his father, grandfather and other senior enlisted leaders, continues a legacy of developing lower enlisted and noncommissioned officers in the United States Naval services. These Marines and Sailors work to build a bond between branches and are the guardians of a tradition that can be shared with generations to come.