Hundreds of Southeast Navy Chief Petty Officers and soon-to-be chiefs gathered in Jacksonville on Wednesday.
Sailors from Naval Air Station Jacksonville, Naval Station Mayport and Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay shared their pride at Metropolitan Park.
The Navy Band Southeast music group "Pride" played a Red Hot Chili Peppers cover while Chief Petty Officers celebrated. Adam Schumacher has been a CPO for a year.
“So we’re celebrating Chief Petty Officers from the very beginning April 1, 1893, all the way up to today,” Schumacher said.
He wore a Navy-blue shirt with the words ‘CPO Pride Day’ across the back. The blue shirt means he’s already a CPO.
“[CPOs are] actually leading the troops.” Schumacher said. ”Whenever there’s a question, whenever a sailor needs to know what they’re supposed to do or how they’re supposed to do it, the phrase that’s always coined is ‘ask the chief.’”
Chief Petty Officers are the backbone of the Navy, he says. The group at Metropolitan Park is split between CPOs and soon-to-be CPOs next week, what they call the “selectees,” all in white shirts.
“So we’ve got a lot of little competitions that go on,” Schumacher said. “You’re going to see a lot of pride.”
On stage, about 40 selectees are cheering around a line of men and women in a sit-ups competition. Hector Martinez, a CPO selectee, competed in the competition.
“I completed 96 proper sit ups today,” Martinez said. “It was good. I trained up for it.”
Martinez is stationed at Mayport. He says later he’ll compete in the marching competition.
“It’s a great team-building event,” Martinez said. “Right now, I can’t argue with the fact that we have come together today more than this entire six-week process.”
Martinez is wrapping up his intense CPO training. He says communication is the most important thing he took away from training.
“Well it’s a milestone in my life,” he said. “It’s a great stepping stone in order to further my career and it’s a great opportunity to actually impact sailors.”
After 13 years in the Navy, next week he’ll be pinned with anchors.