October 23, 2002.  Got a good story for you...

The initiation was held Thursday night into Friday morning... I'm not even going to go into the amount of shit I was covered in for that time period, but lets just say I still can't get the sardine and fish oil  smell out of my skin or the taste of octopus tentacles out of my mouth.

Anyway, I wanted to let you know that the 149 CPO's onboard Connie voted me to be the LAST initiated Chief in Constellation's 42 year history (we Decom next year). I was the first one into the initiation process..and the last to leave (my knees are scarred, had a little hypothermia, and only puked three times!).

The CO came down at the end of the ceremony. As all my fellow selects were already done with the judge and showering, I was still in the "slug" position getting abused by the entire carrier chief's mess.  Our hard core engineering master Chief told me to get up and go tell the Skipper, "Sir, you need to take those Eagles off or get the hell out of here...this is a chief petty officer function and ZEROS are not welcome."

After all the crap I'd already been through, that's exactly what I did.  The CO looked at me, glared and said, "Chief select Burke, you need to Stand down. This is MY ship and I'm giving you a direct order to retract your statement. I'm not going ANYWHERE."

MMCM then handed me a pair of scissors and said, "Cut the M Fs off if you have any balls at all!"

Well, what followed next made history, as I became the only enlisted Sailor on board Constellation to cut both CNT collars with Eagles off of the skipper while at sea. 149 chief petty
officers reacted with loud cheers (sounded like thunder dome on the 7th deck armory level). The CO just glared and walked out of the room.

After that, we took showers and waited 4 hours until our pinning ceremony. I didn't know if the "old man" was pissed or just toying with me. Several senior and master chiefs approached me and said they had NEVER seen this happen in their 25 plus years of naval service. 30 minutes prior to pinning on the flight deck, the Skipper approached me and said he wanted to see me in his cabin directly after the ceremony.

Of course I obliged...he called me to attention "on the carpet", walked Straight up to me with his mutilated CNT shirt (collars cut off) and Handed it to me on a hanger. In the front pocket were his eagles, a CO's coin, and a hand written letter reading,

"Congratulations on being the LAST Chief to ever be initiated on America's Flagship. I will never forget you. Wherever you go, whatever you do... Just know that I am a phone call away if you ever need ANYTHING. Keep your integrity, stick to your guns if you're RIGHT, and always put your troops before you."

He then shook my hand and had a picture taken with him.

It was a huge day Chuck...well worth all the crap of the last 44 days.

The uniform will be worn with pride and honor... to represent those that came before, inspire those who serve now, and provide a light for those to come.

Thanks for all your help shipmate... looking forward to working with you n the future. Anchors aweigh.

v/r EMC(SW/AW) Jim Burke