The month of April marks an important milestone in the life of our service. It is the birthday of the Chiefs' Mess, the date when the rank of chief petty officer was introduced. The path to this position of
leadership and trust is never easy nor a foregone conclusion, and deserves our special recognition. No other navy gives as much responsibility to their noncommissioned officers as does ours, and this is one of the reasons for which ours is the most powerful nuclear navy in the world.
The chiefs are the backbone of the U.S. Navy, entrusted with training and leading Sailors under them as well as advising and training-yes, training-officers above. I learned this when I checked on board my first squadron, VC-8, where Senior Chief Roberson taught me to lead the corrosion-control branch.
I was lucky, though: I had two chiefs to steer me on the right course, having been trained from an early age by Chief Yeoman Henry Fillion, my father, who served 20 years in our Navy. Officers never forget their chiefs, no matter how senior they become.