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NEWS | Oct. 27, 2021

Reserve Chief Selects Join Navy History and Heritage Run at Valley Forge National Historic Park

By Chief Mass Communication Specialist (Select) Chad Butler, Navy Operational Support Center Fort Dix

VALLEY FORGE, Pa. (Oct. 16, 2021) – Fourteen chief petty officer selects assigned to Navy Operational Support Center Fort Dix, Fleet Readiness Center Reserve Mid-West, Detachment McGuire, and Fleet Logistics Support Squadron 64 joined their active duty CPO Selectee classmates from Joint-Base McGuire Dix Lakehurst (JBMDL) for a naval history and heritage run held at Valley Forge National Historic Park Oct. 16.
The selectees’ voices thundered through the park in unified cadence, full of pride at being selected to become the Navy’s newest chief petty officers.
“We’re Navy! We’re Navy! We’re Navy all the way!” chanted the group, composed of ten Full Time Support (FTS) Sailors and four Navy Reserve Sailors. “Whose pride? Chief’s pride!”
Park visitors cheered as the group of CPO selectees, chiefs, senior chiefs and master chiefs ran together reinforcing Navy pride, naval heritage and the Navy core values of honor, courage and commitment.
During the five mile run, the class stopped at monuments along the way to discuss the historical significance and leadership qualities of those enshrined. CPO selects gave historical briefs on Revolutionary War heroes such as Baron Friedrich Wilhelm von Steuben, General James Varnum, General Anthony Wayne and others.

“Alongside George Washington and the Continental Army, the impact that Baron Friedrich Wilhelm von Steuben had on the encampment reinforces the importance of good order and discipline,” said retired Chief Naval Aircrew Mechanical Nichole Kirkpatrick. “It can improve and shape a successful fighting force, and it is just a small piece of the fabric from which we were cut.”
Valley Forge National Historic Park is the location of the 1777-1778 winter encampment of the Continental Army under General George Washington. Here, the Continental Army, a collection of disparate colonial militias supported by hundreds of camp followers and allies, emerged under Washington’s leadership as a cohesive and disciplined fighting force. 

“Going into the event, I didn’t know much about Valley Forge or its significance,” said Chief Naval Aircrew Mechanical (Select) Michelle Marzec. “The historical data points were good to learn to get a grasp on the timelines and events... but the real impact came from learning about the effects that a strong leader [von Steuben] had on changing the state of an entire encampment, through implementing new procedures, standards, and unification.”
“It was an incredible experience to go to Valley Forge,” said Chief Legalman (Select) Karl Malakas. “Though I went when I was younger, in school, I didn’t appreciate it the way I do now, and stopping at each monument to discuss its significance and meaning really brought it all to life. The support that we received from the visitors there, from receiving a passing ‘thank you’ to a simple friendly smile, was great, and running past the Sea Cadets, I thought, ‘hopefully we are able to motivate at least one of them to commit themselves to serving their country, in some way, shape or form.’  If our being there can make that impact on even one of them, that alone makes the whole event worthwhile.”
The group run was one of many events the JBMDL CPO selects participate in during the months-long initiation process.
Known as CPO Initiation, the process is designed to foster teamwork and resilience and hone the leadership skills of newly selected chief petty officers. Under the guidance of the JBMDL Chief’s Mess, JBMDL CPO selects are joining thousands of other CPO selects throughout the Navy in the traditional training program.