More than 1,000 chief petty officers and chief selectees gathered in Jacksonville Wednesday for events and ceremonies of Tri-Base CPO Pride Day.
Their first stop was at the Veterans Memorial Wall, where they honored their sailors and soldiers. They then entered the arena, splitting into teams for a little bit of competition, including tug of war and other physical challenges.
The selectees are nearing the end of a long journey full of rigorous training and added responsibility.
"It takes heart. It takes integrity. It takes good will. It takes leading by exposure," retired 4th Fleet Master Chief Mack Ellis said.
During their transition, each chief select has to carry around a box and what they call their vessel. They can decorate it and personalize it. They put some personal memorabilia and documents inside. It has some historical significance though.
In the past, when sailors were getting promoted, they had to carry around a charge book, like a record book, and go to different commanders and get information on their responsibilities and duties and record it in that book.
"It's crazy to see this many people together, and the fact that we don't know everybody that's here and we're clicking and moving," Chief Select Jessica Harrison said. "I did two tours to Iraq, one to Kuwait and, honestly, it's the sailors that keep me trucking every day and motivated to want to stay in it."
"I can take care of my sailors and make sure they have everything that they need, and I can give them the example I had growing up in my career in the Navy," Chief Select Marshannon Garland said.
"We're going to keep motivating them so they can motivate the next generation, and that's what it takes," Ellis said.