Airmen recognized as honorary CPOs

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Suzanna Plotnikov
  • 81st Training Wing Public Affairs

Four Airmen completed the Navy’s Chief Petty Officers’ 365 Phase II Training Sept. 15 and were accepted into the Chief Petty Officers’ Mess.

The training enhances leadership and communication skills with a heavy focus on team-building exercises and physical training.

Master Sgt. Joshua Anderson, 81st Training Support Squadron Military Training Leader School instructor is the first Airman to go through the course at Keesler.

“Having other branches of the military go through the CPO 365 Phase II is not unheard-of, but it is a rare opportunity,” said Chief Aerographers Mate Andrew Ribar, Center for Naval Aviation Technical Training Unit weather instructor.

Tech. Sgts. Cassandra Cruz, 81st Force Support Squadron Airman Leadership School instructor, Russel Smith, Det. 6 366th Training Squadron structures instructor, and Christopher Estes, Det. 6 366th TRS structures instructor, completed their training at the Naval Construction Battalion Command in Gulfport, Mississippi.

The training is designed to prepare Navy petty officers first class for their role as chiefs. These Airmen were able to fully participate in the process, be accepted into the CPO Mess and be pinned as chiefs. The training enhanced their leadership abilities with emphasis on active communication, sense of heritage, physical fitness and organization.

“I was honored that the command master chief allowed me to participate,” said Cruz.

The Airmen experienced many challenges during the course.

Working on little sleep, having no family time and working seven days a week was very challenging, said Cruz.

The training took place in classrooms, military facilities and local memorials including the Vietnam Memorial, the Armed Forces Retirement Home and the WWII Museum.

Daily fitness sessions, daily heritage and leadership training requirements and lessons were also a large part of training in addition to hundreds of group and individual taskers and weekly base and community projects.

“Some of the teamwork challenges that we faced involved effective communicating and working with different personalities,” said Anderson.

The course also provided a chance to strengthen the relationship between the Navy and Air Force enlisted leadership.

“I was tested, tried and accepted as a Navy chief petty officer. No matter where I go I will always have a fellow chief there for me for whatever I need,” said Cruz. 

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