AL ASAD, Iraq -- The Navy Chief Petty Officers of 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing and supporting units celebrated the 111th birthday of the chief petty officer rank, April 1 here at the Morale, Welfare and Recreation building.
More than 30 Sailors and Marines attended the breakfast. The senior Navy enlisted for 3rd MAW, Command Master Chief German E. Fiesco, and Navy Lt. Henry F. Casey III, Marine Air Control Group 38 medical officer, were guest speakers.
"A chief petty officer is a leader," said Casey, a 41-year-old San Diego native. "It is you, the chief petty officer, that gives these young Sailors the training to back up his Marines."
As the senior enlisted Sailor in a section, the chief petty officer is a vital resource that is not easily replaced.
"We consider ourselves the link between the junior enlisted Sailors and the higher chain of command," said Fiesco, a 45-year-old Bogotá, Colombia, native and 21-year veteran of the Navy. "It means a lot to us to be called a chief. If something is needed, ask a chief. If a Sailor has a question, go ask the chief."
Another Sailor present for the celebration was Senior Chief Petty Officer Henry F. Antonio, senior Navy enlisted for Marine Wing Headquarters Squadron 3. "We have to maintain contact with all enlisted personnel," said the Baguio City, Philippines, native.
"We have to ensure the mission is accomplished because we answer to the higher chain of command on behalf of the junior enlisted Sailors," said Antonio.
Becoming a chief petty officer gave Casey a better perspective as a leader and allowed him to be more responsive to the Sailors in his command.
"A chief petty officer is a lot more than just a rank or rate," he said. "A chief petty officer is part dad, part mom, part preacher, part doctor and sometimes part lawyer, but they are most definitely technicians in their trade. I would go as far as saying that a good chief is more like a magician. They can make things appear out of thin air."
Casey began as a seaman recruit and was eventually promoted to the rank of senior chief petty officer. He later moved on to the Navy Medical Degree Completion Program and shares his definition of what a chief petty officer stands for.
"A chief is always underway," he said. "Not that they are always away from home or on the ship, but they are always getting things done. As a leader, you don't know how something was done, you are just happy it was done."
Another attendee of the breakfast, Chief Petty Officer Cyril W. Taylor, a 37-year-old London native and Marine Aircraft Group 16 lead chief petty officer, believes one of the main jobs of a chief petty officer is to relay what his Sailors feel needs to be done and what can be changed up the chain of command.
"The chief is the pivoting point between the officers and the enlisted," he said. "It is our job to ensure our replacements are properly trained."
The Sailors present at the breakfast seemed to feel a sense of duty and commitment as Casey made his closing remarks.
"You have people looking up the chain of command at you; you have people looking down the chain of command at you," Casey said. "The anchor on your collar is a badge of office and you cannot deny that. Not only are the Sailors looking at you and depending on you, so are our brother Marines."