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Welcome to the "Chief Petty Officers (CPO)" section of Gonzo's Garage.  In these pages, you will find information about what it means to be a CPO, and also a little information about the patch to being a commissioned officer taken by many CPOs.  Unfortunately - when we do so, we are often jokingly referred to as "defectors."


      The US Navy Chief Petty Officer   


[The Chief versus the E-7]    [The CPO Prayer]    [Rules and The Chief]    [CPO Retirement Creed]

[Mariner's Psalm]    [About LDOs]    [The CPO Creed]

Navy Chief Petty Officers are a very special "entity."  When an enlisted sailor progresses up the ladder of success, he or she attains the various ranks:  E-3, E-4, E-5, E-6.  These ranks all have names, such as "Petty Officer Third Class" (E-4), and "Petty Officer First Class" (E-6).  

In many of  the armed forces, when an enlisted person finally attains the senior enlisted  rank of E-7, there is typically no fanfare, no extraordinary celebration, no unusual ceremonies.  The successful person is congratulated, and perhaps given a small party of some sort.  When a sailor makes "Chief" however, they are shedding their former enlisted coverings, and being quite literally "initiated" into a new world.  Unlike the other armed forces, the Navy Chief dons a new, distinctive uniform (the same as that of a commissioned officer) and begins a whole new career.

The Navy Chief Petty Officer is still a non-commissioned officer, but is held in high esteem by enlisted and officer alike.  When a Sailor makes "Chief," they aren't merely promoted based on an advancement examination score.  Not everyone makes Chief!  The candidate for Chief Petty Officer must pass the written examination, but must then be selected by a special board made up of Senior and Master Chief Petty Officers, and Commissioned Officers.  The selectee is then "Appointed" by the Bureau of Naval Personnel, and "initiated" into the ranks of the Chief Petty Officers.

When a sailor has a problem, he or she goes to "The Chief."   When a junior officer lacks the experience to get things done, it is "The Chief" who is often the instrument of swift decision, and who can always "get it done."  When the Skipper needs the squadron to do the impossible, The Chiefs are the first to leap into action to rally the troops.  In the Navy, you are not just an E-7, E-8, or E-9:  You are a "Chief," "Senior Chief" or "Master Chief."

We as Navy Chiefs have our own creed and our own fraternity, and our profession is filled with tradition dating back over one hundred years.  Active duty or retired, Navy Chiefs are the ones who set the example and "make it happen."  We are bound and dedicated to our duty as leaders forever.   

In a crisis situation, many a time is heard the phrase: "Ask The Chief."


"Always bear in mind that no other armed force has rate or rank equivalent to that of the United States Navy. Granted, that all armed forces have two classes of service: enlisted and commissioned; however, the United States Navy has the distinction of having four, i.e. Enlisted, Bureau appointed CPO, Bureau appointed Warrant and Commissioned."
- from the CPO Creed


This Sums It Up Nicely:

Speech Text by CINPACFLT at CPO Pinning Ceremony,
Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, September 2001




Senior Chief Petty Officer      Chief Petty Officer Wisdom and Humor   Senior Chief Petty Officer

[The Chief versus the E-7]    [The CPO Prayer]    [Rules and The Chief]    [CPO Retirement Creed]    [Mariner's Psalm]



The Navy Chief, versus The E-7:

The Chief The E-7
The Chief is always a part of the answer. The E-7 is always part of the problem.
The Chief always has a program. The E-7 always has an excuse.
The Chief says, "LET ME DO IT FOR YOU." The E-7 says "That's not my job."
The Chief sees an answer for every problem. The E-7 sees a problem for every answer.
The Chief sees a green near every sand trap. The E-7 sees a sand trap near every green.
The Chief says, "it may be difficult, but it's possible." The E-7 says, "it may be possible, but it's too difficult."
The Chief works harder then an E-7 and has more time. The E-7 is always "too busy" to do what is necessary.
The Chief makes COMMITMENTS! The E-7 makes Promises.


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Senior Chief Petty Officer      The US Navy Chief Petty Officer's Creed    Senior Chief Petty Officer


During the course of this day you have been caused to humbly accept challenge and face adversity. This you have accomplished with rare good grace. Pointless as some of these challenges may have seemed, there were valid, time-honored reasons behind each pointed barb. It was necessary to meet these hurdles with blind faith in the fellowship of Chief Petty Officers. The goal was to instill in you that trust is inherent with the donning of the uniform of a Chief. It was our intent to impress upon you that challenge is good; a great and necessary reality which cannot mar you - which, in fact, strengthens you. In your future as a Chief Petty Officer., you will be forced to endure adversity far beyond that imposed upon you today. You must face each challenge and adversity with the same dignity and good grace you demonstrated today. By experience, by performance, and by testing, you have been this day advanced to Chief Petty Officer. In the United States Navy - and only in the United States Navy - the rank of E7 carries with it United responsibilities and privileges you are now bound to observe and expected to fulfill. Your entire way of life is now changed. More will be expected of you; more will be demanded of you. Not because you are an E7 but because you are now a Chief Petty Officer. You have not merely been promoted one pay grade, you have joined an exclusive fellowship and, as in all fellowships, you have a special responsibility to your comrades, even as they have a special responsibility to you. This is why we in the United States Navy may maintain with pride our feelings of accomplishment once we have attained the position of Chief Petty Officer. Your new responsibilities and privileges do not appear in print. They have no official standing; they cannot be referred to by name, number, or file. They have existed for over 100 years, Chiefs before you have freely accepted responsibility beyond the call of printed assignment. Their actions and their performance demanded the respect of their seniors as well as their juniors. It is now required that you be the fountain of wisdom, the ambassador of good will, the authority in personal relations as well as in technical applications. "Ask the Chief" is a household phrase in and out of the Navy. You are now the Chief. The exalted position you have now achieved - and the word exalted is used advisedly - exists because of the attitude and performance of the Chiefs before you. It shall exist only as long as you and your fellow Chiefs maintain these standards. It was our intention that you never forget this day. It was our intention to test you, to try you, and to accept you. Your performance has assured us that you will wear "the hat" with the same pride as your comrades in arms before you. We take a deep and sincere pleasure in clasping your hand, and accepting you as a Chief Petty officer in the United States Navy.


The CPO Prayer:

Dear Lord,

So far today, God, I have lived my life as you would intend.  I haven't lost my temper.

So far I have not even grabbed the Chief's Mess Cook by the throat, like yesterday.   I have said nothing insulting or humiliating to any of the junior officers.  I haven't bitched about the coffee, the ship's schedule, the watch bill or last Saturday's Personnel Inspection.

I have told no lies...  I have not cheated at poker.  I have put no ship's tools in my personal toolbox.

In short God, I believe that so far today I have committed no grievous sins.   Thank you, God, for helping me to stay righteous so far. But Lord, it's almost 0600 and in a little while I'm going to roll out of my bunk and after that I think I will need a lot more help.


Author Unknown


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The Rules and The Chief:


1.  The Chief is always right.

2.  In the impossible hypothesis that a subordinate may be right, see rule #1.

3.  The Chief does not sleep...  He rests.

4.  The Chief is never late...  He is detained elsewhere.

5.  The Chief never leaves work...  His presence is required elsewhere.

6.  The Chief never reads the paper in the mess...  He studies.

7.  The Chief never goes on liberty with his juniors...  He conducts training sessions.

8.  Whomever confronts the Chief with an idea of his own, must leave with the Chief's idea.

9.  The Chief is always the Chief.  Even in his shower shoes.

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The CPO's Retirement Creed:

You have on this day, experienced that which comes to all of us who serve on active duty in "OUR NAVY."  I say "OUR NAVY," because your departure from active duty in no way terminates your relationship.

     By law and tradition, U.S. Navy Retirees are always on the rolls ever ready to lend their service when the need arises.  The respect that you earned as "The Chief" was based on the same attributes that you will now carry into retirement.   You should have no regrets.

     Do not view your retirement as an end of an era but rather as orders to a new and challenging assignment, to a form of independent duty.  Remember well that you have been, and will always be, an accepted member of the most exclusive of all fraternities - that of the U.S. Navy Chief Petty Officers.

     The active duty Chiefs salute you, your retired Chiefs welcome you.  We wish you the traditional "Fair Winds and Following Seas."


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The Mariner's 23rd Psalm:


The Lord is my pilot, I shall not go adrift;
He lighteth my passage across dark channels;
He steereth me through the deep waters,
He keepeth my log.

He guideth me by the evening star for my safety's sake.
Yes, though I sail mid the thunders and tempests of life,
I fear no peril, for Thou art with me,
Thy stars and heavens they comfort me.
The vastness of the sea upholds me.

Surely fair winds and safe harbors shall be found
All the days of my life;
And I shall dock secure forever.





      The US Navy "Mustangs"   

Navy Limited Duty Officers (LDOs) and Chief Warrant Officers (CWOs) are a very unique part of the Naval service.  Commonly referred to as "Mustangs," the LDO or CWO serves in a role like no other commissioned officer can.  LDOs and CWOs are enlisted people who are commissioned as Officers, and have been called to serve from their senior enlisted ranks as technical managers.  An LDO or CWO has the necessary experience and technical background to perform tasks that call for the "officer" rank and protocol to carry out, but require the enlisted heart and experience to get accomplished.  Currently, the US Navy and Marine Corps are the only branches of the armed forces to have such commissioning programs in place.

Limited Duty Officers are so called because they are always limited to assignments for which they have been trained and possess the necessary technical background.  For example:  a Naval Aviator's (regular Line Officer) primary job is to fly airplanes.  When they are not flying, however, they are typically assigned duties as "Division Officer," "Personnel Officer," "Admin Officers," and other administrative jobs for which an officer is needed to perform.  These officers typically rotate their jobs every six months or so, to get a varied background in command administration.  The career track of the Naval Aviator is to eventually command a Squadron, Air Wing, Aircraft Carrier, or eventually even a Battle Group.  Their technical expertise is usually limited to what they need to  know about flying and operating the aircraft systems, and their ultimate concern is aviating, combat tactics, and winning battles.

An LDO or CWO assigned to the same squadron, in the above example, will always perform duties directly related to the mission of assuring battle ready airplanes or equipment.  The LDO or CWO will typically serve as the Maintenance/Material Control Officer (MMCO), directly responsible for maintaining the aircraft and coordinating logistics.  This frees up the Naval Aviators to focus on their primary job of flying and fighting the airplane.  The LDO's or CWO's  knowledge of the aircraft is detailed and intimate.  Even though they do not fly the aircraft, the LDO or CWO was once the enlisted technician who maintained the airplane, and thus knows every nook and cranny of that airplane.  The career path of the LDO/CWO will always be to serve in the same types of technical management roles, from one assignment to the next.  An LDO will never be called upon to command an operational combat unit.

Direct commission officers are typically given their commissions, and allowed into the Navy, providing they have the necessary education and physical abilities.  The "Mustang" has to pass a very rigorous selection process to become an officer.  The average selection rate for enlisted people to become LDOs or CWOs is usually around 6% to 15% of those who apply each year.  For direct commission officers, the primary requirement is a college education (Bachelor's Degree).  For the LDO and CWO, it is experience and performance that determines their selection, often times coming from the ranks of the Chief Petty Officer community, or from a select few Petty Officers (E-6).  Although a college education is not a prerequisite for selection, many LDO/CWO selectees are those enlisted people who had enough motivation to earn a  college degree on their own time anyway.

An LDO or CWO is an officer by appearance and in the minds of the "top brass," and an enlisted technician at heart.  The creed of the LDO/CWO, upon receiving their commission is: "I did it the hard way... I earned it."


"...he (The LDO/CWO) possesses the one thing that the direct commissions may pretend, but can never attain: the sure knowledge of what goes on in the hearts and minds of enlisted men..."

  Gerald P. Averill





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