A Final Farewell by Navy Reserve’s 15th Force Master Chief
By Navy Reserve Force Master Chief (Ret.) Clarence “C.J.” Mitchell
Shipmates, I want to take this opportunity to reflect on my past four years as your force master chief. But first, I want to personally thank your families, employers and communities for the support they provide that allows for your outstanding service to our Navy family. With their sacrifices, they have, in turn, supported me, making my job to represent you and your record of selfless dedication to duty, both here at home, and around the world, very easy.
As I think back on my time as the 15th force master chief, I look to the force master chiefs that came before me. I knew when I got this job that I wanted to live up to their legacy and service. Like my predecessors, I wanted to reach out to you, spend time with you, listen to you, and help you. My best memories in this role are my times with you, the Reserve Sailor. I visited you in NOSCs from New York to Montana; from California to Guam. I visited you while you prepared to deploy and while you were on deployment – from NIACT in Fort Jackson to England; from Djibouti to Afghanistan. While I didn’t make it to every NOSC or every mobilization location, I sure tried. And during my tenure, more than 12,000 Sailors mobilized with a 90 percent volunteer rate!
Whenever I had an opportunity to see you and your shipmates at work, I was impressed. It did not matter if it was at your local NOSC, squadron, or battalion spaces, or if it was on the watchfloor in some remote location – wherever I went, I saw top-notch professionalism and teamwork. Sailors making contributions to the Navy and to a winning effort making commands better and ensuring mission success is, in a word, impressive.
Equally, if not more impressive is the work that you do outside of the Navy in your civilian jobs and in your communities. I have met teachers, professors, law enforcement officials, doctors, nurses, engineers and even a rocket scientist. You are journalists, cyber professionals, civic leaders, mangers and business owners – the list is long and diverse. You bring all of these professional skills and work ethic into your military careers. You are indeed twice the citizen – both in and out of uniform.
In 2015, we had our Centennial – 100 years of the Navy Reserve. With stakeholders and supporters like the USO, the Navy League and the DoD Agency Employer Support of Guard and Reserve (ESGR), we celebrated with events at every NOSC and every mobilization location around the world. I did not need to look for the centennial, as we found it wherever I went – even airports – I would surprisingly find our banner prominently displayed.
Unfortunately, there were tragic times as well that year. The events in Chattanooga, Tennessee, on July 16 changed many of us forever. We lost a shipmate, Logistics Specialist 2nd Class Randall Smith, and four Marines in the senseless shooting that happened that day. But it also brought us closer together. To see the Navy Reserve rally around Chattanooga by volunteering to serve, not just in Chattanooga, but also as armed watchstanders at NOSCs around the country. The response was swift and resolute as Sailors stood the watch outside the fence line of bases – it was emotionally moving. I was there in Chattanooga to see the response and support of the eastern Tennessee area. For a short time, it felt as if we had the support of the whole community propping us up. Your response, and the response of our Navy, cannot be captured by words.
The Navy Reserve has progressed significantly in the past four years. Advancements have increased in many ratings, especially the Seabees. There are operational opportunities available at sea for information warfare Sailors and many others. The High Value Unit escort mission is a dedicated Reserve mission similar to the medium lift logistics mission of our VR wing. Major improvements have been implemented to enable your service such as Enhanced Drill Management, integrating the Navy Reserve Order Writing System with the Defense Travel System, and a Personnel Qualification Standards program for NOSC personnel, to name a few. The Ready-to-Serve mobile application has changed the way that we communicate and connect to Navy systems, making us more mobile and agile, and there is more coming.
The future of the Navy Reserve makes it bittersweet to retire and give up the best job in the Navy. As Vice Adm. McCollum and our leadership work tirelessly to progress the Navy Reserve, you will hear and see much from an action plan designed by simplify, enable, leverage and Resourcing. CNR and the OPNAV 095 team are the best in the world and dedicated to all of you! Most of all, I am excited for Master Chief Chris Kotz and his family. He is an awesome master chief petty officer with a great work ethic who wants to serve others. The future of the Navy Reserve is indeed bright with CNR and 16th force master chief out front leading the way.
For my career and tenure as the 15th force master chief, it has been helluva run. I will never be far away and I will enjoy watching as the Navy Reserve modernizes and continues to leverage and resourcing. CNR and the OPNAV 095 team are the best in the world and dedicated to all of you! Most of all, I am excited for Master Chief Chris Kotz and his family. He is an awesome master chief petty officer with a great work ethic who wants to serve others. The future of the Navy Reserve is indeed bright with CNR and 16th force master chief out front leading the way. For my career and tenure as the 15th force master chief, it has been helluva run. I will never be far away and I will enjoy watching as the Navy Reserve modernizes and continues to contribute to mission success in the Navy in innovative and flexible ways. Every job that I have had in the Navy has been good and it has been my honor and my privilege to serve as the senior enlisted leader of the Navy’s best Sailors and citizens. I am proud of you and I am thankful for your service and dedication.
Editor’s note: This blog was originally published as a column in the Navy Reserve’s TNR magazine (Volume 17, Issue 3) while Mitchell was the Reserve’s 15th force master chief . He later retired Oct. 13, 2017, during a ceremony at the U.S. Navy Memorial in Washington, D.C.