As I have mentioned before in this blog, being promoted to Chief Petty Officer is a big deal in the Navy. Not only have you been selected to this position of leadership by your peers, but you have joined the brotherhood of all other Chiefs (E-7 through E-9) that are part of the US Navy. In fact, Chiefs tend to refer to one another as “brother.” It sounds weird till you get used to it.
Part of the celebration and the welcoming of new Chiefs is the annual Khaki Ball, held a short time after the selectees are made full Chiefs. It’s called the Khaki Ball because it’s a party just for Chiefs and their significant others, and they wear their khaki uniform. That’s Kurt’s everyday uniform, so he could have worn the same uniform to work and then later to the ball! But he did put on a clean and freshly pressed uniform for the ball.
Last night was the 2008 Khaki Ball, sponsored by the Chiefs’ Mess of Naval Station Newport. It started at 5pm, but we decided to be fashionably late. We arrived with our friends Pamela and Vic at 5:45pm or thereabouts, and we were still earlier than many people.
The night started off with the introduction of the new Chiefs. The Master of Ceremonies read off the name of each new Chief with his/her significant other, and the couple walked in to the ballroom and did a little turn on the dance floor. I thought that was a really neat way to introduce the new Chiefs! I wish they’d done that when Kurt was a new Chief.
When Kurt was a new Chief, they made him do the Chicken Dance at the Khaki Ball. It wasn’t very dignified.
After that, we all said the Pledge of Allegiance. It was the second time that day that Kurt had recited the Pledge. For me, it was the first time in sixteen years or so that I had said it. I haven’t had a need to recite the Pledge since I was in high school, but Kurt says it every morning at quarters. I was somewhat nervous that I would have forgotten parts of it, but fortunately I remembered every single word.
The Chiefs also recited the Sailor’s Creed and sang “Anchors Aweigh.” I tell you what, if ever you are in the need of some heart-warming, emotionally stirring, patriotic feeling, get together some Navy Chiefs and have them sing “Anchors Aweigh” to you. It is really moving. (I finally realized I should get some of it on video right at the very end of the song. I only managed to capture the last ten seconds or so, but if you’re interested, the video has been posted HERE.)
The speaker for the evening was Force Master Chief Gerald Haueter. He’s the head enlisted guy of COMNAVSURFLANT, which stands for Commander, Naval Surface Forces, US Atlantic Fleet. His speech was very well-delivered. He was so comfortable standing in front of the crowd, and he talked to us. He didn’t simply read a prepared speech. It was the most engaging speaker I’ve yet heard at one of these military functions.
The other cool thing is this man served on the same ship as my father in the early 80s. Later I introduced myself to FORCM Haueter and mentioned my dad to him. He said he remembers my dad well and was very thrilled to hear that I am his daughter. My dad ran a lot of the entertainment on the carrier when he was stationed there, so most folks knew him (or at least knew of him), while he didn’t know all that many people.
The only dim spot in the evening occurred after FORCM Haueter made his remarks. The folks who had run the initiation for the new Chiefs made presentations of plaques to everyone who had helped out. That would have been fine, except they had a lot of plaques to present, and the presenters kept making all kinds of inside jokes that people who hadn’t been there wouldn’t get. It got really old, really quickly.
But then it was time to award door prizes!! We ended up with six tickets, since most of our table decided to leave when the dancing started. We won two prizes — a gift certificate to the Brick Alley Pub (want to meet up again, KarmaCat??) and a Boston Celtics t-shirt.
I was less than thrilled to receive the Celtics t-shirt. I would have rather won almost anything but a Celtics t-shirt! It’s not that I don’t like the Celtics; I just couldn’t care less about basketball in general. Fortunately, one of the Chiefs really, really wanted the t-shirt, and he offered me a commemorative coin in trade.
I think I got the better end of the deal! That is one rad coin, let me tell you, and I’m pleased to own it.
We stayed right till the end of the ball. It was over at 11pm, so it wasn’t that late. I managed to drag Kurt out on the dance floor a couple of times, and I even got a chance to dance with my friend Scott. He twirled me around to some swing tunes, which was a lot of dizzying fun. I even managed to get my drink on a bit, having ingested four whiskey sours and a Cape Cod (which is cranberry & vodka, if you didn’t know — which I didn’t until last night). The Cape Cod didn’t sit right on my taste buds after the whiskey sours, so I only drank half of it before the overzealous wait staff cleared it off my table.
I was far more moderate last night in my alcohol consumption than I was at the last Khaki Ball I attended. Then, I had eleven whiskey sours. I was drinking with another lady and had to keep up with her! We’d also rented a room at the hotel where the Khaki Ball was held, so it wasn’t like we had to drive anywhere.
Amazingly enough, the alcohol didn’t seem to hit me until I got home, where it hit me like a ton of bricks, all at once. Kurt took excellent care of me and got me into bed, where I fell asleep as soon as my head hit the pillow. Usually I have to read for ten to fifteen minutes at the least to fall asleep, but I guess I was just really tired (and pretty inebriated) last night.
All in all, it was a very good night. And look! We even got all gussied up!
We clean up good, don’t we???