Al Asad Air Base, Iraq --
At some point throughout the year, most people usually celebrate a day that’s very important to them. That special day sometimes comes with a party, cake, and maybe even gifts. For Navy chief petty officers around Al Asad Air Base, all they needed was one another’s company in order to celebrate their birthday.
Navy chiefs from units all over Al Asad came together to celebrate the birthday of the rank of Chief Petty Officer, April 1, 2009.
“Taking a break to celebrate our birthday is very important,” said Chief Petty Officer Dover Slone, a preventative medical technician with Regimental Combat Team 8’s Regimental Aid Station. “This celebration gives us the opportunity to honor those who came before us and pave the way for those who will come after us.”
Although the celebration is meant for Navy chiefs, it can also serve another purpose.
“I believe that we have to lead by example,” commented Slone. “If we want our younger Sailors to honor the Navy traditions we have to show them what it’s all about.”
During the celebration, sailors conversed with one another, shared laughs, jokes and cake cut by the youngest and oldest chief petty officers.
“One thing about being a chief is that it’s universal throughout the Navy,” said Slone. “No Chief is stranger to another. I don’t know some of these guys, but we all treat each other the same way we would if we did know each other.”
For some chiefs, the event gave them the chance to simply remember what being a chief means to them.
”Throughout the Navy’s history, the chief has been a key element,” said Chief Petty Officer Richard Mascioni, an assistant senior medical department representative with 1st Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, Regimental Combat Team 8. “It’s pretty much a band of brothers.”
Some might look at the rank of chief as just another staff non-commissioned officer, but to the men and women who wear the rank of chief, it’s a little more than that.
Since the rank of chief petty officer was introduced in 1893, for many it has become the most noteworthy promotion on the enlisted side of the Navy. Once attaining the rank of chief, sailors are expected to take on more responsibility and duties as a leader, and adviser to younger Sailors.
“The Navy looks at us to be mentors to other sailors,” commented Slone. “We’re only as good as our own people are, so we have to make sure we have to continue to lead them in the right direction.”
Sailors from Regimental Combat Team 8 may have joined in the celebration, but it was the work of Chief Petty Officer Greg Schoolcraft that made the event possible.
“I just wanted to make sure that everyone knows what we’re celebrating and why we’re celebrating the Chief’s birthday,” said Schoocraft. “Holding events like this not only shows other Sailors what were all about, but it also shows everyone else our legacy.”
Camaraderie and tradition are key aspects that can help to keep a unit strong and productive. For Navy chief petty officers those two elements have forged a bond between them that will continue to be cherished and celebrated.
For more information on the ongoing mission in Iraq’s Al Anbar province, visit www.iimefpublic.usmc.mil/iimeffwd.