ROTA, Spain (NNS) -- As the 125th birthday of the chief petty officer drew near on April 1, Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 11 Command Master Chief John Beck reflected on the role of the Navy chief.
Born and raised in Rockingham, North Carolina, Beck enlisted in the Navy in August 1995. After successful completion of Construction Electrician "A" School at Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas, he reported to his first duty station aboard Naval Support Facility Thurmont, Maryland. Fast forward 10 years and Construction Electrician 1st Class Beck was selected for, and promoted to, chief petty officer in September 2006.
"As a very young Sailor in the Navy, I admired what the chief stood for," said Beck. "They were the experts in their trade, they were the disciplinarian, they were mentors, they were the counselors, but most of all I felt they were the epitome of leadership; hence the phrase 'ask the chief.'"
The rank of chief petty officer was established April 1, 1893, in recognition of the unique leadership capabilities of senior enlisted personnel, who provide technical and administrative expertise while also bridging the gap between officers and junior enlisted personnel.
"Our CPO Creed states it best when it says 'your entire way of life is now changed. More will be expected of you; more will be demanded of you,'" said Beck. "This rings even more true in today's Navy. We expect and demand a great deal from our Sailors as we operate forward in nearly every corner of the world, therefore our chief petty officers have to be ready, willing and able for the task at hand."
Promotion to the rank of chief petty officer is regarded as one of the most memorable achievements in a Sailor's career. Chiefs are empowered with broad responsibilities, drawing upon their years of experience to provide training and mentorship to junior Sailors and officers alike.
"Having been a technician throughout my career you realize a few things," said Senior Chief Information Systems Technician Tara Mayes, assigned to NMCB-11. "First, you realize that the equipment you work on is vitally important to the mission; however of equal importance is the development of the sailors who work on, maintain and operate that equipment. Developing junior sailors and junior officers takes finesse. They are the future leaders of the Navy, so it takes a certain amount of adaptation to train them so they reach their max potential, not yours."
The multifaceted role of chief petty officers also extends to the preservation of naval traditions and core values. Chiefs utilize this knowledge of naval history as a tool to pass on the legacy of the Navy to the Sailors they lead.
According to a message released in 2012 by former Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy Rick D. West, "Our anchors are the symbol of a culture and a way of life. Since 1893, chiefs have been charged with the responsibility of ensuring our Sailors are the best in the world, ready to carry out our Navy's mission when our nation calls."
"It is the chief's responsibility to ensure that our Sailors are prepared to operate with resiliency and lethality across multiple domains," said Beck. "As we celebrate 125 years of the chief petty officer, I feel that all chiefs should take a moment to reflect on those that have gone before us and broken down the barriers. Most of all though, I feel that as we celebrate the amazing accomplishments and profound leadership the CPO mess provides to the Navy. We must never lose sight that the position we are in is a privilege, not a right and it shall exist only as you and your fellow chiefs maintain these standards'."
Beck leaves with one final message, "We must never sacrifice the trust of our Sailors, officers, allies and partners, and most of all the public trust of our country. Happy Birthday chiefs; lead boldly and honorably."
NMCB-11 will remain deployed until they are relieved later this year and have delegated project responsibility to the Seabees of NMCB-1.
NMCB-11 is part of the Naval Construction Force (NCF). The NCF is a vital component of the U.S. Maritime Strategy and is comprised of deployable battalions capable of providing contingency construction, disaster preparation and recovery support, humanitarian assistance, and combat operations support in support of regional partners and combatant commanders.