What is an Honorary Chief Petty Officer and who can become
a Honorary Chief?!
By regulation, only the MCPON may authorize the recognition of an individual as an Honorary Chief Petty Officer.
An individual just can’t be recommended by anyone, well they could however, the recommendation has to be initiated by a Command Master Chief, Chief of the Boat, Command Senior Chief, or Senior Enlisted Advisor.
The recommendation needs to be backed by substantial factual data regarding the individual’s continuing involvement with the Navy’s Chief Petty Officer’s Mess, as well as justifying actions that exhibit the nominee’s advancement towards the professional objectives of the CPO Mess as well as demonstrating the principles consistent with the CPO Mess.
The recognition of Honorary Chief Petty Officer is intended to recognize a sustained contribution, not just a single act. The idea is that the individual has been and still is constantly contributing to the collective CPO community, enlisted force.and the Navy.
The title of Honorary Chief Petty Officer is in nature symbolic, there is no pay associated with it, nor is the individual eligible for any veteran’s benefits.
This recognition isn’t restricted to celebrities, nor prior enlisted Navy.
Department of Defense Civilians are eligible for this honor. Commissioned officers have been recognized as an honorary CPO. Even members of the Army, Marine Corps and Air Force may be recognized as an Honorary CPO.
Even children may be recognized as an Honorary CPO, in special cases, the youngest individual to be recognized was Diego Enrique Santiago, who received this honor at the age of 5 years old.
Diego was 5 year-old child who was at the time battling lung cancer, a battle that, sadly, he lost. But his wish was to be just like his dad, a Chief Petty Officer.
Politicians can also be honored as a Honorary Chief – Secretary of the Navy (SECNAV) Ray Mabus was recognized as an Honorary Chief in 2010.
Per the instruction, though, Honorary Chief is the highest grade that can be honored, no Honorary Senior Chief or Honorary Master Chief.
The idea being that’s appreciation from the Chief Mess as a whole, and not to divide the recipients based on current or prior rank.
However, we do have a few Honorary Master Chiefs….
ONE Honorary Master Chief is Robert Stetham who was made an Honorary Master Chief in 2010. I posted his story and his recognition on FB before. If anyone wants me to re-post that story, let me know.
The Office of the MCPON is tasked with creating and displaying a log list for all Honorary Chiefs, with information as their name, whether or not they had prior service in the military, and the date they were recognized.
However, at the moment, this log seems to be specifically hard copy in the MCPON’s office. There’s no public list that I could find.
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