Navy celebrates historic birthday with Airmen

DAVIS-MONTHAN AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz. – Chief Petty Officers from the Navy and Air Force noncommissioned officers pose for a picture. They are celebrating the 118th birthday of the Chief Petty Officer. (U.S. Air Force photo/Master Sgt. Angela James)

DAVIS-MONTHAN AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz. – Chief Petty Officers from the Navy and Air Force noncommissioned officers pose for a picture. They are celebrating the 118th birthday of the Chief Petty Officer. (U.S. Air Force photo/Master Sgt. Angela James)

DAVIS-MONTHAN AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz. - Chief Logistics Specialist Mitch Newcombe, Navy Mobile Construction Battalion 18 Detachment Phoenix, and Master Sergeant Angela James, 355th Operations Group first sergeant cut the cake at the Navy’s 118th birthday of the Chief Petty Officer. The cutting of the cake symbolizes the tradition of a Chief Petty Officer passing knowledge from one generation to the next. (U.S. Air Force photo/Master Sgt. Angela James)

DAVIS-MONTHAN AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz. - Chief Logistics Specialist Mitch Newcombe, Navy Mobile Construction Battalion 18 Detachment Phoenix, and Master Sergeant Angela James, 355th Operations Group first sergeant cut the cake at the Navy’s 118th birthday of the Chief Petty Officer. The cutting of the cake symbolizes the tradition of a Chief Petty Officer passing knowledge from one generation to the next. (U.S. Air Force photo/Master Sgt. Angela James)

DAVIS-MONTHAN AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz. -- The historic event was hosted by the Navy Operational Support Center, Tucson. The Chief Petty Officers in attendance wore their traditional khaki uniforms. In the spirit of promoting joint forces camaraderie, Chief Master Sergeant Vincent Howard, 355th Fighter Wing command chief master sergeant, and Chief Master Sergeant Shane Clark, 162nd Fighter Wing command chief master sergeant, attended with 17 Air Force senior noncommissioned officers. Chief Howard expressed the excitement of the Airmen who attended, many for the first time.

"This is a great opportunity for us to celebrate and appreciate the honored customs of the U. S. Navy," said Chief.

The celebration began with a social hour of Navy and Air Force Senior NCOs mingling among their sister service peers. This provided an opportunity for members of both services to learn more about the others' inherent cultures.

The ballroom was decorated with poster boards capturing the Chief Petty Officer's 118-year history. The Tucson Navy Operational Support Center did a wonderful job of paying tribute to their fellow Sailors as well as conveying the diverse history of the Chief Petty Officer through photos and written notes.

The Mess began with rendering respect to the colors and the invocation, followed by a tribute to our nation's POWs and MIAs. After each poignant statement of recognition by the narrator, the ship bell was rung to give proper reverence to the fallen and missing soldiers, sailors, Marines and Airmen alike. The sacred and shared tradition was culminated through a series of toasts, the last being silent. Following the toasts, the Chief Petty Officers' Mess bowed their heads in silent prayer honoring the sailors who have "set sail on the great ship in the sky."

As a distinctly naval tradition, the ringing of the ship's bell during the POW/MIA tribute was a standout memorial and symbol. The bronze bell is a prevalent part of the of the Navy's nautical history and proud heritage. It was initially introduced in 1485 by the Royal Navy to provide signals, keep watch time and to sound alarms during times of high fog on the seas. The ship bell was used for the first time on an American vessel during the Revolutionary War. It is still used today as originally instituted, as well as integrated into significant ceremonies to inspire sailors, reminding them of their commitment to the defense of our nation. Of particular interest, the bell remains with the ship, and the Department of the Navy after the decommissioning of its assigned vessel. The oldest ship bell in our history is the 242 pound bell which remains with the USS Constitution to this day.

The evening continued with dinner and conversation between both forces. After dinner, the narrator determined the oldest and youngest Chief Petty Officer in the Mess. In continuing with the joint spirit of the night, the traditional selection was opened up to the Air Force guests. The oldest member of the Mess was Chief Logistics Specialist Mitch Newcombe, Navy Mobile Construction Battalion 18 Detachment Phoenix; and I was the youngest member. We proceeded to share cake-cutting duties as per Navy custom, symbolizing the Naval tradition of a Chief Petty Officer passing knowledge from one generation to the next.

The evening ended with the Chief Petty Officers reciting the Sailor's Creed, and a commemorative group photo of all members of the Mess.

"Dining with our brothers and sisters from the Air Force on such a highly honored tradition made for an exceptional evening," said Chief Builder, Charles White, assistant officer in charge, NMCB 17, Det 7 Tucson. "Celebrating our pride and history with them made a great event even better. It shows the quality of the men and women that keep our country safe and free."

All of the Air Force Senior NCOs involved were honored to have the opportunity to share in this special event. The celebration was not only informative, but more importantly, it began building a bridge for our enlisted leaders as we move forward into the decisive Joint arenas of our future operations.

"The chance to share our heritage and traditions with our comrades in the Air Force was an outstanding opportunity," said Senior Chief Steve Kennedy, Command Senior Chief for NOSC Tucson. "We look forward to growing more ties between us and our sister service, and being able to celebrate more with them in the future."