One day a Naval Officer passed by a work station and spotted a Chief Petty Officer that had just given the command "Fall-out, carry out the Plan of the Day." Impressed by the CPO's command presence he asked, "Have you ever thought about becoming an officer?"

In response, the Chief asked, "Do you know who I am? Do you really know who I am and what I do?" I am the backbone of the Navy. My fellow enlisted Sailors and I keep our Navy running. Without us, you don't have a Navy...you have a group of officers with no one to lead, delegate to, or command. I am more than 100,000 strong.

In times of need I've done your job in the time of war. Without me, you can't go to war. The next time you ask a Chief Petty Officer about becoming an officer, ask yourself, "Can the Navy afford to lose this CPO from its ranks?" I'm all for the "grow your own" concept, but sometimes robbing one pot to fill another is not the right way to do things. And if you still feel the need to ask the question of a Chief Petty Officer, be careful how you ask it because sometimes, intentionally or not, it comes off condescending and insulting.

I don't know how many times an officer has asked me, "Why didn't you ever apply for an officer program? It's not too late." As if by not doing this, I have somehow wasted my time in the Navy or settled for less. I've settled for nothing and worked damn hard to get where I am. I aspire to be exactly what I am, and strive daily to improve myself and those around me. I have never regretted being an enlisted Sailor. So, again I ask, "Do you know who I am?"

Obviously you don't or you never would have asked me about becoming an officer. You would have known that you were asking me to give all this up for a salute and a bigger paycheck. For many of us, the price of becoming an officer is just too high. Now, let me ask you a question, "Have you ever thought of giving up your commission and becoming a Chief?" If that offends you, think about how I feel when you ask me the same thing.

Last preventive maintenance on this page December 30, 2005