MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. --
“Having Marines go through the process with me has been eye opening! I have served green side for over nine years and still counting,” said Chief Petty Officer Selectee Wendy Cajas of 7th Engineer Support Battalion. “They trust us with their lives and they will fight and die for us. To be called ‘Doc’ is an honor and I love my Marines for always being there for me, and I for them.”
The Chief Petty Officer season (selection) is a six to eight week period of hands-on and scenario-based training that is required for a Naval First Class Petty Officer to bear the title “Chief.” Throughout this period CPO selectees face a number of physical, mental, and moral challenges that strengthen their leadership. Every year, Sailors from around the world take part in the process to become a CPO.
“Each year service members outside of the Navy apply to participate in the CPO season, but not all are accepted,” said Command Master Chief Loren Rucker, Command Master Chief of 1st Marine Logistics Group. “They learn a slightly new language, and experience a different culture, all the while knowing this is completely optional for them. They do not change uniform, they can’t visibly wear the anchor in uniform. But they will wear it with pride knowing they earned the right to be called a Chief!” Rucker also mentioned that the service members applying to join the Chief’s Mess must be doing it for the right reason, and not for selfish gains.
Master Sergeant Dorian Gardner with Marine Corps Installations-West’s Communication Strategies and Operation was one of the select few that had the opportunity to participate in the Chief selection process. Gardner not only proved himself worthy of participating, but he also continued to show why he was a great candidate throughout the process. He used his knowledge of the Marine Corps as a way to help the CPO selectees see each situation from a different perspective, and used the opportunity to absorb all of the information as possible.
“Master Sergeant Dorian Gardner, such an amazingly beautifully fierce man! As we know, he was injured by an IED during his deployment. Some could have used that as an excuse to ride out his career but he did the complete opposite. Every day he gives 200% and everyday he teaches me how to value and appreciate life.” said Cajas. “His hunger and dedicated to the Corps, the Navy, and to the selectee mess is priceless.”
He applied to better himself, enhance his leadership abilities, build connections, and take the knowledge he learned in able to apply it his leadership for the betterment of the Marines under his charge.
“MSgt Garner taking part in the Chief Initiation shows the esprit de corps that he has to not only humble himself to take part in this time honored tradition, but also his ability learn what it takes to be a Chief. Having Marines go through this process is a great way to bridge the gap of the Navy/Marine Corps Team by teaching new ways to lead and mentor junior Marines and Sailors. He has been an inspiration for the other Chief Selectees to follow and has never let any of his physical limitations slow him down, but rather motivate others to keep up with him.” said Senior Chief Chad McFall, a hospital corpsman with 1st MLG at 1st Medical Battalion.
Marines such as Gardner significantly help shape and expand upon the Navy/Marine Corps team.