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Navy Chief Petty Officer Larry Pieper at Chemical Biological Incident Response Force donned his khakis at a ceremony here. Pieper is a religious program specialist at CBIRF.

Photo by Sgt. Leslie Palmer

CBIRF chief dons khakis

17 Sep 2008 | Cpl. Leslie Palmer

Leaping from the bed, the sailor found his uniform waiting in his closet. He ran his fingers against the golden anchors perfectly positioned on his collar. He had waited years for the moment he could don his khakis having earned the title: chief petty officer.

Initiation is a word that stirs an inspirational emotion among chief petty officers. Many aspects of the rite of passage are kept secret to keep in the tradition of the Navy.

"(Chief indoctrination is) a mystery. That's part of the mystique behind being a chief," said Chief Petty Officer Dominic Frank, an instructor.

For Chief Petty Officer Larry Pieper, religious program specialist, Chemical Biological Incident Response Force, II Marine Expeditionary Force, being a Chief is about one thing: leading Sailors.

"As a chief, you will take care of any sailor, anywhere, anytime," Pieper said. "Your job is to manage and lead, and when chiefs lead, the Navy excels."

Throughout the two-month course Pieper attended, he and his fellow chiefs learned communication skills, Navy knowledge, and various other skills integral to becoming a chief. Physical training was from 6:30-8:30 a.m., with the rest of the day devoted to academic work.

"It is educational, physical, mentally challenging, and stressful," Pieper said. "It’s to advance your character and teach you that what you do is about your troops. A person consumed with self-importance will have a hard time getting through it.”

While it may seem unorthodox, chiefs have a special place in the Marine Corps.

“The chief properly trains his or her subordinates and junior officers on what their role is in support of the Marine Corps mission,” Pieper said. “Because we have such an important role, the most powerful and influential organization in the Navy is the Chief’s Mess,” Pieper said.

According to Rear Adm. Jim Shannon, guest speaker at the event, chiefs take on an important role in the Navy's mission, using the tools they gain at the indoctrination course.

"We knew then, as we know now, that we can send ships, airplanes, and submarines into the great unknown, because we have chiefs," said Shannon. "Chiefs make sure everything is alright.”

Shannon's advice to the new chief petty officers was to make three characteristics central in their lives.

"This job takes three things, courage, judgment, and stamina," Shannon said. "No single person in the Navy impacts an individual more than the chief. The attitude and performance of the chief affects the sailors' and officers' lives. Our Navy counts on the chief to tell it like it is. Navy chiefs are gutsy."

Not much can be found on the Chief Petty Officer Indoctrination Course. A rite of passage that aspects of will remain secret for years to come.