Preserving San Diego's Naval Heritage


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Table of Contents

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 1. The Pulsetakers

 2. The First: Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy
                  Delbert D. Black
                  January 13, 1967 - April 1, 197

3. Zumwalt's MCPON: Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy
                  John "Jack" Whittet
                  April 1, 1971 - September 25, 1975

 4. Middle of the Road: Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy
                  Robert "Bob" Walker
                  September 25,1975 - September 28,1979

5. Pride and Professionalism: Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy
                  Thomas S. Crow
                  September 28, 1979 - October 1, 1982

 6. Doing the Right Thing: Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy
                  Billy C. Sanders
                  October 1, 1982 - October 4, 1985

 7. Leadership Development: Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy
                  William H. Plackett
                  October 4, 1985 - September 9, 1988

8. Quality of Life: Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy
                  Duane R. Bushey
                  September 9, 1988 - August 28, 1992

9. The Rest of the Team: Spouses, Staff and Friends

10. People Not Machines

      About the Author



                When the Office of the Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy was created in 1967, the U.S. Navy took a giant step forward in untapping the leadership capabilities of its enlisted force. In the act of adding an extra gold star to a master chiefs crow, the senior levels of command were, in effect, saying to the enlisted community, we respect and value your opinion, we need your input, and we will listen and act.

                And just as they have met the challenges of war and peace for more than two centuries, the enlisted community has responded in a way that not only silenced the "doubting Thomases," but amazed those who initially believed. No one could have known 25 years ago that the office would grow into the position of influence and credibility it enjoys today. No officer, regardless of his position in the chain of command or Washington bureau, demands more respect, gains quicker access, or is listened to more intently than the Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy. Wise Congressmen, Secretaries of Defense and the Navy, Chiefs of Naval Operations, and Naval Personnel and many, many others have benefited from the sage counsel of the MCPON. For his voice is not only the voice of personal experience, but of the broad and ever-changing spectrum of the enlisted experience.

Today, when there are so many avenues of communication open to the modern Navy sailors, it is difficult to imagine the breadth and depth of the gap that the first MCPON was asked to bridge in 1967. Among the most, rewarding memories of my naval career are those snapshots of time spent listening to sailors. Whether they were manning riverboats in Vietnam or the engine room of a destroyer underway, If I could get them to talk, I always learned something. But the sailor of the Sixties rarely had the opportunity to speak to someone who could make the changes they suggested, or at least, expressed interest in what they had to say. We were far too busy running our

ships, balancing our accounts, or making ourselves look good for the promotion boards. And, if by some miracle, we did validate a sailor's suggestion by making the recommended change, we kept the credit for ourselves. As a result, sailors stopped talking and started walking. .right out the door. Or they stayed and convinced younger, impressionable shipmates that no one "up above" gave a damn about what he or she thought.

That's where the Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy came in. He went out to the Fleet with a message: "We do care and if you will tell me what's on your mind, I'll make sure that someone listens." I had the honor of working with Delbert Black and Jack Whittet, the first and second Master Chief Petty Officers of the Navy. What giants they were!

Like so many other good ideas that take years to ripen, the MCPON did not work overnight miracles. But, as those of us who have spent our careers as officers know well, there is no one more patient or more persistent than a chief with a mission. He might yell and cuss, bang on tables or stomp a few toes, but eventually, he will get what he wants. .if you give him the time and resources.

Between Delbert Black and Duane Bushey, 25 years have passed. Seven Master Chiefs have worn that extra star on their sleeve. They earned that star in much the same way they earned their first crow as a petty officer . They were tested and approved. Once they had the title, they had to earn it.

Credibility gained as a petty officer must grow with each added stripe. Add an anchor, more to prove, add a star, still more. But add that third star and you are out in "no man's land." Those junior to you are looking up, perhaps holding you, perhaps pulling you down. Those above may extend a hand of confidence or, lacking confidence in their own abilities, try to push you down. Seven men have survived "the winds of change." They learned when to bend and when to stand firm. They adjusted, adapted, and adhered. Nonetheless, they refused to .change one common denominator that has served them well throughout their voyage to the top. They continued to practice loyalty up, and loyalty down. They learned a keen sense of balance on the high wire on which we placed them: that bridge between the Officers and the Enlisted.

With this history, marking the 25th Anniversary of the Office of the Master Chief Petty Officer of the N avy , we gain insight into the job, the men who have held the title, their joint and singular accomplishments, the support system they developed over the years, the organization, and, last, but not least, the leadership capabilities of the world's finest enlisted community. In each and every sailor serving the U. S. Navy today lies the potential to be a Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy and the opportunity to make the world's finest Navy just a bit better for their shipmates. 

                                Admiral Elmo R. Zumwalt,
                                U. S. Navy (Ret.)
                                Chief of Naval Operations




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