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'Master Chief' Perry Honored by Navy's Enlisted Leadership

By Chief Petty Officer Cleve Hardman
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Dec. 13, 1996 – The Navy recently named Defense Secretary William J.Perry an honorary master chief petty officer in a night full of recognition from the Navy's senior enlisted leaders.

Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy John Hagan certified Perry an honorary master chief as former master chief petty officers of the Navy Del Black and Bob Walker pinned anchors on the collar of Perry's dress shirt.

"I want to thank you for this promotion," Perry said. "Everybody knows that a master chief outranks the secretary of defense."

"Authority, responsibility and accountability are traits required of a chief petty officer," said Black, the first master chief petty officer of the Navy. "You have been the perfect role model, and I want to welcome you to the ranks of the chief petty officers of the United States Navy."

The event at the Navy Memorial was the focal point of the Navy's Senior Enlisted Leadership Forum. The group recognized Perry's continued efforts to handle issues of importance to the enlisted force and to take action to rectify shortfalls.

"We have assembled here tonight in a very modest way to say 'thank you,'" Hagan told Perry. "During a time of force drawdown when one could reasonably expect that compensation and other quality of life issues would be benignly neglected or even purposefully cut, Dr. Perry championed, coordinated and led the successful effort to ensure that instead of cutbacks and losses, there have been substantial gains across the board."

Perry also became the first recipient of a new award, a glass-encased chief's cutlass. The cutlass was a standard-issue, small arms item for enlisted personnel on board Navy vessels from 1860 until it was removed from armories in 1940. The presentation to Perry by the senior enlisted leadership acknowledged his courageous and skillful leadership.

"No approval means more to me than the approval of our enlisted force," Perry said. "All Americans can be proud that we do have the best damn Navy in the world."

Vice Adm. Dan Oliver, chief of naval personnel, acknowledged Perry's legacy will live on through the people left behind. "We have the best damned secretary of defense in the world," Oliver concluded.

(Hardman is the public affairs assistant to the master chief petty officer of the Navy.)

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