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MCPON Letter to the CPO Mess


I would like to start this letter off by saying how honored I am to have the opportunity to serve alongside all of you. It is my opinion that the Chief’s Mess is as strong as it has ever been. Your accomplishments are many and impressive; you should feel good about who you are and what you represent as a person, and as a Chief Petty Officer.

On April 1st, 2015 Chief Petty Officers will celebrate one hundred and twenty-two years of service to our nation and our Navy. Over the years, like many of you, I have asked myself, “What is the definition of a Chief Petty Officer, and how can this definition best be framed?”

Because of the broad duties and responsibilities of a Chief Petty Officer, a simplified definition is something that is difficult to capture in a few short sentences. After much thought and discussion with our Chiefs during my fleet engagements, I would like to offer our Chief’s Mess the following definition:

“A Chief Petty Officer is a quiet, humble, servant leader.”

As leaders, we have the responsibility to establish and maintain the conditions that provide all of our people the opportunity to be successful and accomplish whatever mission we have been given. And we do this while treating one another with dignity and respect.


To further define a quiet humble servant leader:

Quiet: We communicate, but we let our actions speak for themselves. It is far more about what you do than what you say.

Humble: Being humble is thinking less of yourself, and thinking more about others.

Servant Leader: Placing others’ needs and successes before your own. Being mindful that the more senior you become, the more people you serve.

Arguably, the most significant leadership trait one can possess is the trait that can only be acquired through your actions – reverence. For all intents and purposes, it is impossible to be a complete and effective Chief Petty Officer without receiving the reverence, or the respect, of your people. If one truly embraces the ideal of quiet, humble servitude, then reverence is imminent.


In the United States Navy there are over thirty thousand Chief Petty Officers. Visualize the Chief’s Mess as one body and each member a vital part of that body. If each of us strives towards the definition of a Chief Petty Officer, imagine the reverence that the Chief’s Mess will further achieve.

Since our establishment in 1893, Chief Petty Officers have been vital to the success of our Navy. I often say that without an effective Chief’s Mess, a command cannot succeed, and with an effective Chief’s Mess, a command cannot fail.

It is my desire that you will embrace this letter and weave it into discussions with your Sailors and senior leaders, and that it will amplify our commonality of purpose. This discussion is necessary so we may sustain and build upon our Navy’s legacy of excellence.
Chief Petty Officers are quiet, humble, servant leaders.

Very Respectfully,