In 1948, Chief Machinist’s Mate Richard McKenna had a bone to pick with the Navy. Postwar personnel assignment policies—probably made inevitable by massive adjustments in the wake of a global war—were having a deleterious effect on the morale and consequently on the performance of chief petty officers in the Fleet. Admitting that his preliminary research was “confined to general conversation over the coffee cups in a half-dozen CPO messes during the past two years,” McKenna decided that it was time to give those messes a voice. Taking pen in hand, he wrote an essay titled “The Post-War Chief Petty Officer: A Closer Look” and submitted it to the Naval Institute.
Chief McKenna’s essay was chosen as an Enlisted Prize Essay winner and was published in the December 1948 issue of Proceedings. In retrospect, this was not a surprising outcome.