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You Are Now a Leader: Being a Chief

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WATERS OFF THE COAST OF SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA (NNS) -- Chief Gunner's Mate Trayvon T. Turner said he remembers vividly the day he knew he would become a chief petty officer. It all began with five words spoken by a chief petty officer during Turner's third class petty officer indoctrination 21 years ago.

"You are now a leader," said Turner, recalling those empowering words-words that he said made him sit up straight in his seat. "From then on, my mind was made up; I was going to be a chief." 

Everyone has a start and Turner's career began as undesignated airman onboard Nimitz.

"I started off in the weapons department where I worked in G2 Division with the aviation ordnancemen and gunner's mates," said Turner. "It was crazy to think I would do twenty years in the Navy." 

As the number of airmen grew on the ship, Turner decided he would forge toward his passion of becoming a radioman.

"I would work and qualify with the guns and weapons system during the day," said Turner. "After all that, I would bring my conversion packet to get my signatures to convert to radioman."

The long working days in weapons department, however, began to take a toll on Turner's chances of becoming radioman.

"They would keep me running around later each day so I couldn't go and study to convert," said Turner. "They didn't want to lose me because of my qualifications on the guns and weapons systems."

As he pressed forward, Turner developed a newfound respect for the gunner's mate rating, and in 1997, Turner took the rating exam and became a gunner's mate. 

It was a milestone Turner says he could not have accomplished without the help he received from a third class petty officer that he feels emulated leadership qualities meant for a chief.

"Aviation Ordnanceman 3rd class Haywood had patience and the time to answer every question I had," said Turner. "That made a difference in my career and taught me the importance of taking time out of the day to answer questions for young Sailors." 

Over the years, Turner has held on to that valuable lesson he learned from Haywood and he has implemented it into his leadership style. 

"I give Sailors time," said Turner. "They deserve my time because that's what Haywood did for me. It goes a long way, like it did for me. We are so fast paced in the Navy and Sailors need their leaders to be there for them.

After 16 years in the Navy, Turner earned the rank of chief petty officer. Today, he is leading more than 35 Sailors in weapons department aboard the guided-missile cruiser USS Princeton (CG 59). He is also Princeton's maintenance material management coordinator (3MC), command financial specialist, command equal opportunity officer, Morale, Welfare and Recreation (MWR) president and the Chiefs Mess vice president.

"As a leader in the Navy, a chief has to wear many hats," said Turner. "Sailors are going to look to the chief for all types of knowledge about everything, and if the chief doesn't have the answer at that very moment, it's a chief's job to help that Sailor find the answer."

On April 1, the Navy celebrated the 124th birthday of the chief petty officer rank, and Turner said he believes chiefs, past and present, hold a special bond that has endured since the inception of the rank.

"We are taking care of each other like a family and it's been going on for over a century," said Turner. "Chief is a position of honor, heritage, and tradition. Wherever Sailors are, there will always be a chief to help."

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Guest navyordie123

that is a great story, it tells of how leaders are forged everyday through the deckplates of the Navy and what a true leader is supposed to be like. I am thankful to all the leaders that I have worked for in the past that have made me the leader that I am today. the good and the bad leaders make you a leader, it is how you take those lessons from them and make it your own. a leader is also defined at how they take care of their junior personnel, for without them no one will succeed. People speak everyday of the leaders that run a company or whatever it maybe, but it truly the workers and junior personnel that make everything run, the leaders are there to inspire and teach them to make them better.

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