Recruit Training Command's (RTC) Petty Officer Association (POA) celebrated the history of the petty officer at an event hosted by the POA in the Recruit Memorial Chapel at RTC, June 28.
More than 300 people, including Capt. John Dye, RTC commanding officer, attended the event that proceeded the frocking of Boatswain's Mate Daniel Muniz, Fire Controlman Charles Spears and Engineman Brandon Whitaker to the rank of petty officer first class.
Unique to the Navy, frocking allows a Sailor to wear and assume the responsibility of their new rank before they are actually paid.
Petty officers have always been important members of the Navy. Initially, they wore neither uniforms nor rank insignia, they usually held appointments only while serving on the ship whose Captain selected them.
In 1841, petty officers got their first rank insignia, which was an eagle perched on an anchor. The recognition of three classes of petty officers did not occur until 44 years later in 1885, when chevrons with points down were placed under a spread eagle facing the opposite direction of today's insignia.
The present petty officer insignia came about in 1894; a year after the Navy established the chief petty officer rank.
"You do not put on chief's anchors without first rising through the ranks of petty officer," said Gas Turbine Technician (Mechanical) 2nd Class Thomas Barker. "As a petty officer you start to learn what it takes to be a leader and what it takes to run a division of a department. To me being a petty officer is taking those first steps toward leadership."
Petty officers serve as supervisors, technical experts, and mentors throughout the fleet.
"To be a petty officer, to me, is being able to assist and guide my fellow peers to success," said Aviation Maintenance Administrationman 1st Class Tanya Smith "Mentorship is a very important part of being a leader."
As a hands-on supervisor of many Sailors, petty officers are often the ones young Sailors turn to for advice beyond professional issues.
"Being approachable and actually caring is a major part of taking care of your fellow Sailors," Smith said. "Accessibility allows you the opportunity to address any issues whether they are personal or professional."
The progression from seamen to petty officer or "being frocked" is a significant step in the career of a Sailor. It is a promotion marked by tradition and an increase in roles and responsibility.
"I spent the early part of my career as a petty officer 3rd class through to 1st class," said Chief Yeoman Bryan Davis. "It is a time in the Navy that I constantly look back on and cherish to remind me to be grounded and grateful for the petty officers who led me. When I think of what a model petty officer is, I see someone that is not looking for recognition, nor one who steps on people to get promoted. I thank them for striving everyday to mold Sailors into who they need to be to make the Navy the best that it can be."
Recruit Training Command, located on Naval Station Great Lakes, Ill., trains more than 37,000 volunteer civilian recruits annually, transforming them into basically trained Sailors.
Learn more at http://bootcamp.navy.mil or http://www.facebook.com/NavyRecruitTrainingCommand/.
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