These Anchors


You are making a transition that on the surface appears very simple: A small step from E6 to E7. Can't be that hard, can it?

Yet this isn't a small step, Shipmate. It is a huge leap from the authority, responsibility, and duty of First Class Petty Officer to those of a Chief Petty Officer. There is nothing simple about it.

This transition should scare you. You should continue to experience some trepidation long after this process.

Fifteen years after I was initiated I still find myself learning, facing new challenges, and seeking the collective wisdom of my Chief's Mess. Every day I work hard to be nearly as good as those men and women who came before me, and those with whom I currently serve.

It is an awesome endeavor, walking in the shadow of the great and the brave.

Maybe it is because of these anchors. They are metal, as many rank insignia are, but they convey a certain strength of character, a more direct purpose, and a much broader significance that others. These anchors can take a beating. You can immerse them in tears and blood, salt water and mud, jet fuel and bilge crud. Buff them up and watch them shine. Just like the men and women who wear them -- the Chiefs -- they clean up nice.

These anchors are durable. They last.

And, yes, your anchors will take a beating. Your shipmates will cry on them and bleed on them. It is you who will make things right, because you are now the Chief.

These anchors have to shine a little more brightly than other collar devices. Young Sailors need to see them, must be able to find them quickly in times of duress and emergency. They must shine as beacons of leadership because where Chiefs lead, the crew follows.

Where Chiefs lead, the Navy excels. And where Chiefs fail, we all fail.

Maybe that is why these anchors, unlike any other U.S. military rank insignia, uniquely identify their wearer's service - U.S.N.

These anchors are passed down from generation of Chiefs to generation of Chiefs. These anchors I wear today were given to me by a long-since retired hero: A Navy Master Chief who has been my leader, my teacher, my mentor, and my friend. But these anchors are not mine. I am holding them for a perhaps more able and more deserving leader who will in turn hand pass them on until someday they will be worn by a Chief Petty Officer not yet born. I expect some day you will hold them for a while.

These anchors I once wore are now yours and should be worn proudly. I know you have earned them. However, these anchors are earned again each and every day. They are earned on the deck plates and flight lines, on ships, and boats, and at remote locations wherever you find Chiefs leading -- wherever Sailors look for the Chief in times of stress, times of fear, times of uncertainty, and times of loneliness.

They look for these anchors, Chief, to guide them, to bring them home safely. These anchors stand for a tradition of sacrifice and duty, exalting achievements and heart-breaking losses.

Yet these anchors survive. They endure.

Always remember, however, you do not choose these anchors.

These anchors choose you.

Congratulations, Chief, and welcome to the Mess.

-- JOCM(SW/AW) David M. Butts

Last Preventive Maintenance December 30, 2005