White Hat Burial

Selectee's: In a short time you will no longer belong to any officially recognized group. You will no longer be a participating member of the First Class Petty Officer ranks. And you have not earned the RIGHT to be addressed as or considered a member of the Chief Petty Officer's Mess. You belong to no other group than yourselves

Should any of you fail to complete the tasks required of you in the next 24 hours, you will be unable to return to the First Class ranks. And you WILL NOT BE ACCEPTED as a member of the Chief Petty Officer Community.

With these thoughts, I ask you to look back on your years of service, your sacrifices, your dedication, and lastly, the support and efforts each of you received from your peers, your junior sailors, your senior sailors and your family. For if it were not for all of these people, your transition to Chief Petty Officer could very well have happened next year, if at all.

Tomorrow evening is a long way off. A very long way off. Let us now focus on this night, this task at hand; This, the LAST time you will don and doff your white hat. Remember all of those who have gone before you - not just those of us who became Chief Petty Officer's, but the many who never did, and those who gave their lives for the Navy, the Nation, and their Shipmates!

More than 200 years ago, this nation founded, out of necessity, a Continental Navy that would enable the thirteen colonies to break free of the Monarch. And today, that Navy as evolved into the single most respected, powerful, and best manned Naval service in the World.

Best Manned. Two words that say EVERYTHING about our Navy. For without the tens of thousands of citizens who, voluntarily become Citizen-Sailors, all there would be is a large collection of very expensive hardware.

In July of this year, those of you here who were chosen for advancement to Chief Petty Officer, were recognized for your years of personal sacrifice, dedication, and teamwork. Tomorrow, you all will be proud. Tomorrow.

For tonight, right now, we pause to reflect. Not on ourselves, and our many accomplishments - no. We pause to remember… to remember all those millions who have served our Nation in this, our service, The United States Navy.

We look back on those first sailors, trained in the high British style, who chose instead to fight on the high seas with tactics and plans thought in those days to be ill-mannered and ungentlemanly. And of their very radical ideas for that age led to our nation's freedom.

We remember the Civil war, and it's senseless slaughter of countrymen, of father against son, and or the dawning of the steel sea vessels.

We remember the Spanish-American war, specifically, the sinking of the USS Maine just off Cuba.

We remember the Great White Fleet, and the 'Round the World cruise in the Name of Democracy.

We remember World War One - and the dawning of the Submarine Service and realization of the awesome power to come of the Airplane - The Aviation Service. And we remember the thousands who died fighting the Second Reich.

We pause to Remember World War Two - the most horrific and costly war ever waged by humanity - at any time. December 7th, 1941 - Pearl Harbor. Battleships destroyed while sailors slept. The war in the Atlantic, the U-boats, the Submariners and Merchant Marines who fought bravely to keep Britain and hope for all of Europe, alive. We reflect upon the Island Campaign of the South Pacific, and the dawning of the Nuclear Age with the Atom Bombs that ended the War on the teak decks of the battleship USS Missouri.

We remember Korea, and we remember Viet Nam. The Prisoners of War, the Air War, the Marines at Kay San. And we remember the Missing In Action - may they one day be returned to their loved ones for proper internment, and for closure.

And we remember those who gave their lives throughout the Cold War - the USS Scorpion, the USS Thresher, the Air Crews. And we remind ourselves of today's geopolitical developments, the young Sea-Bee shot and killed on the tarmac in the Middle East, the bombings of our Embassy's in Kenya and Tanzania, and most recently, the USS COLE.

Who we remember here tonight are those who went before us. They gave their very lives so that this nation, and the ideals that it stands for, would continue.

We remember those who trained us, grew us, covered for us when we needed it, and even when we were unaware of it. Those who tried with all they had, and never became "The Chief".

And lastly, we remember that for each one of you here tonight, there ore more than 20 Thousand First Class Petty Officers who would trade places with you in a heartbeat. Perhaps next year. Perhaps never.

For all of those who have gone before you, and for all of those who will follow you, tonight we remember.

Do not forget!

DO NOT EVER FORGET WHERE YOU CAME FROM. Those you will lead, those who will FOLLOW you, you were once one of them. DO NOT EVER FORGET WHERE YOU CAME FROM!

It is time. One at a time, from the senior to the junior selectee, one at a time, step forward, pausing to remember.

Pause and remember. And as you remove this cover for the last time, each of you, in turn, will toss your white hat into the this final resting place, and in your loudest, most reverent voice, saying:




Steph(en) D. Ping


Summer, 1999

Last Preventive Maintenance December 30, 2005