BREMERTON, Wash. (NNS) — Navy Region Northwest Chief selectees graduated a 2014 USS Turner Joy Chief Petty Officer Legacy Academy held aboard USS Turner Joy (DD 951), Aug. 22.
Commands throughout the Navy chose 47 selectees to participate in this year’s academy, which was broken into two classes, which entails living aboard the Vietnam-era destroyer for six days while participating in community relation projects, ship preservation, leadership training, reenactments of Vietnam-era operations and heritage projects relating to the U.S. Navy and its Chiefs Mess.
More than 50 mentors along with friends and family attended the graduation ceremony held on the pier in front of the Turner Joy museum.
“The chiefs really took us under their wings and out into the community to instill in us what it means to be a chief petty officer,” said Chief (Select) Aviation Electronics Technician David Sweeney, a Rochester, New York, native assigned to USS Nimitz (CVN 68).
“Whether it was meeting with veterans at the veterans home or painting the Turner Joy, they humbled us and put us in a position to remember those who came before us and to think of our Sailors,” said Sweeney. “They really emphasized being a deckplate leader.”
“I want all of you to remember that you are never carrying those anchors by yourself,” said Master Chief Hospital Corpsman Paul Klahr, a Middletown, Pennsylvania, native, while serving as guest speaker during the academy graduation. “Take that pride and honor you have in serving your country and pass it on to your Sailors; be that chief.”
The Region Chiefs Mess mentored the selectees throughout the transparent program according to Chief Navy Career Counselor Rex Parmelee, a Nicholasville, Kentucky, native and public affairs officer for the academy.
“This academy, being held aboard Turner Joy which is a museum, is interactive with the public and families,” said Parmelee. “We keep the families informed through social media and the selectee are actively engaged with community relation projects and ship preservation which all tie into their naval heritage.”
The Chiefs Mess gave parting wisdom after the ceremony to graduates.
“Remember that as the chief you enforce rules that officers assign, and you lead Sailors,” said Commander, Submarine Group 9 Command Master Chief Ted Calcaterra, a Missoula, Montana, native. “The driving steam you gathered here may be diffused over time, but [the academy and chief indoctrination process] will serve as your foundation for your future as a chief.”
“As chiefs we choose to lead because we were selected to be here,” said Calcaterra.
Being selected to be a U.S. Navy chief is an honor bestowed to outstanding enlisted Sailors, according to one graduate of the academy.
“Out of all the selectees on the Nimitz, I was one of four,” said Sweeney. “I owe many thanks to my command, and the Chiefs Mess for the opportunity to work with my brothers from different communities and function as a team.”
Navy News article By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Cory Asato, Navy Public Affairs Support Element West, Det. Northwest