JBSA-FORT SAM HOUSTON –
Chief petty officers from the Navy Medicine Training Support Center conducted their second annual Navy white hat burial ceremony as part of the celebration of the 120th CPO birthday April 1 at Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston.
NMTSC personnel support and teach the Hospital Corps "A" school and basic and advanced medical courses to Army, Navy and Air Force enlisted students at the tri-service Medical Education and Training Campus.
The ceremony was held to recognize the CPO birthday and share CPO and Navy traditions with the staff, said Master Chief Hospital Corpsman Shanon Best, NMTSC command master chief.
"Tradition is very closely related to our core values," Best said. "In itself, it's not a character trait or value. However, tradition is priceless to our Navy. It's the staff on which our core values of honor, courage and commitment are flown."
The solemn white hat burial ceremony featured five NMTSC CPOs serving as pall bearers for a coffin draped by the American flag and containing the Navy white hats of the 15 NMTSC CPOs who were promoted in 2012.
Honors were rendered, a bugler played "Taps," and the flag was folded and presented to Best.
The pall bearers lowered the coffin into the ground next to the "gravesite" from last year's ceremony, just outside the Navy corpsman student barracks. The CPOs then each shoveled dirt over the coffin.
"The Chief Petty Officer 365 training process provides examples of great naval traditions, to include the chief selectees saying goodbye to their beloved white hats as one of the final events prior to them becoming chief petty officers," Best said.
"What we see in our young Sailors today is the tradition of devotion and dedication the first chiefs established with their sacrifices and valor," the master chief added.
"Today's chief petty officers are no less dedicated. We prove our worth every day and continue to meet great challenges and endure adversity."
The birthday celebration theme was the birth, sustainment and future of the chief petty officer, Best said.
The birth was represented by the white hat burial. The sustainment was represented when Chief Hospital Corpsman Kerrigan Glaspie, a basic medical technician corpsman program instructor, reenlisted. The future was represented by a cake cutting featuring the oldest and youngest CPOs present.
Closing remarks were given by the NMTSC commanding officer, and all hands present sang "Anchors Aweigh."
During his remarks, Capt. Joel Roos, who was himself inducted as an honorary CPO in 2010, spoke about his first experience with a CPO in the 1980s as an ensign arriving to Naval Hospital San Diego for a third-year medical school clinical rotation.
"I was working in the brand new ophthalmology clinic and in my zeal to see as many patients as possible, I began to interfere with clinic operations, moving furniture and breaking established processes," Roos said.
"This was to be my first encounter with a Navy chief. This chief spent the next three weeks doing his best to turn me into a presentable officer who would know something about leadership in the Navy," Roos said. "I learned at a very early stage in my career the role of the Navy chief petty officer - as a leader, a mentor and the keeper of naval tradition."
For Hospital Corpsman 1st Class Paul Michael Linville, the celebration was inspiring and motivating.
"It was an inspiring event for all junior Sailors to take pride in the history and traditions we hold dear in the Navy," said Linville, a BMTCP instructor.
"It recognized where we have come from and where we are going in the future. It motivated me to be a better Sailor and hope for the day when I will be the one burying my white hat."