Thursday, February 26, 2009

CPO Academy Doings

I am in the process of preparing to attend the CPO Academy. The requirement to attend kind of revolved around my advancements until I found myself a Master Chief without the school. The story of why I haven't gone is long and convoluted, so I won't go into that now. Suffice it to say. It is time for me to go.

As a Rating Force Master Chief, it is a requirement to have attended a Senior Enlisted Leadership School in order to do the job. I am actually really looking forward to attending and have started all the preparations for it. I'm way ahead of schedule. The problem is I don't actually have orders to a class yet. I am hoping to get into the April 18th class and am confident that there will be an opening when the time comes. I will be in that class.

Whenever I encounter anything new or challenging, I usually immerse myself into learning everything I can about the subject. I research and Google everything I can think of about the subject and try to gain as much knowledge about this new thing in the hopes that some of it matures into wisdom. I am also an almost obsessive list maker. I like seeing things orderly and accounted for, which I'm sure surfaces in any Myers-Briggs typing I will be doing. I usually can't watch a movie or read a book without having to research something from the event to gain more knowledge.

I am well into my check list for the CPO Academy. Last week I submitted my profile and saw medical and admin to complete the required prerequisite physical fitness and weight paperwork. I have also already completed my Senior Enlisted Joint Military Professional Education Course in preparation for the Academy. My Educational Assessment update is already on its way to the Institute and I am well into the other requirements that you need to show up with for the class.

I'm also rigorously implementing a fitness and diet plan to get me as lean and mean as I can get to fulfill that requirement of the class. I have adopted some USMC workout routines to get myself into fighting shape. I will be talking more about that in a later post.

So as that one hurdle (orders) looms, I prepare myself to do something I should have taken the time and effort to complete 10 years ago, but I try to not look back too much (unless it is to examine a mistake I don't want to repeat) and go forward with confidence and maximum effort.

Here is my CPO Academy Checklist:

  1. Receive orders to class
  2. Enroll in CPO Academy Welcome Course
  3. Submit Student Profile
  4. Complete Physical Fitness Form
  5. Complete PAR-Q
  6. Request College Transcript
  7. Submit Educational Assessment
  8. Reserve Flights
  9. Purchase Shuttle Tickets
  10. Prepare Bullets for Award
  11. Pick up Medical Record
  12. Review President's Challenge
  13. Prepare/update IDP
  14. Complete Unit Performance Factors form (UPF)
  15. Choose Clep Exam
  16. Maintain Weight Standards
  17. Enroll/Complete EJPME
I intend to track my course as I prepare for the academy and continue this blog as a day by day journal of my preparations, goals, accomplishments and challenges of attending the United States Coast Guard Chief Petty Officer Academy.

ETCM Joe Harold

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The Road Less Traveled by...

"...Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference...."

Those words from the Robert Frost poem The Road Not Taken have become my motto for staying with the enlisted force and not crossing the line into the commissioned ranks.

When you are an enlisted person, if you stay around long enough, a chance at a commission usually presents itself to you for the taking. I am no different, but the circumstances of my offer of a commission were pretty much to my advantage. When the two lists came out, I was sitting pretty well on both of them. I was above the cut for E8 and I was the Predictor for CWO. This situation was good, because with those standings, I could stay on both lists and not make any decisions until the time came to either stay the course, or jump the chasm.

I had mixed feelings on both options. One argument I always hear is the CWO ranks have a lot more choices on where to go and what to do, but you are basically starting over at the lowest officer rank. The Senior Enlisted pay grades have their advantages too. You are the Senior Enlisted; with that moniker comes more responsibility and yes, privileges, but the number of places you could go diminish considerably. I had always gravitated towards the senior enlisted ranks, but I wasn't going to close any doors until I had to.

So, come Feb of 2000 I was advanced to ETCS. Now, with an advancement comes transfer, which is especially true when you get up this far. So I waited until the season rolled around for the transfer and the inevitable call from the detailer. I was currently at ELC Baltimore and I was sent down the road to the famous Puzzle Palace, Coast Guard HQ. My choices were basically limited, because a detailer is supposed to try and keep your transfer no cost if you have the possibility of advancing (and transferring) again within the same year.

So here I am, a Senior Chief and I have just settled into my new job when I get the call from another detailer, this one the Warrant Officer Detailer. Along with my commission I was offered a free trip to the Mediterranean Sea to meet my ship and continue on a six month Out-of-Hemisphere cruise. In the meantime, my family would have to pack up and move cross-country, find a place to live and get all set up; all without me. I asked for the weekend to think it over, but it was pretty much a no brainer. I had just come up on 18 years in the Guard and my family had followed me hither and yon for most of that time. I wasn't going to ask them to make that move without being there to do my part. I turned down the commission.

Not too long after making that decision, I came across the Robert Frost poem and it struck a cord with me. I had known it all the time. I don't like crowds; I like following new or little used paths to see where they go. I wanted the road less traveled by.

Now I am an E9, getting ready to start a job that protects and nourishes the rating I have been for 23 plus years.

And that has made all the difference.

Monday, February 23, 2009

This Journey Begins...

As I lie tossing and turning at 2 am this morning, while random thoughts flashed through my mind from one subject to another seemingly at random like surfing the Internet, one of the things I decided was to get started on this blog.

Right now my goal is to post entries, hopefully a few a week; maybe more, maybe less. But I want to record what I am going through professionally and personally as I roll down that road towards the next gatepost in my life.

My career has been going good and I will soon be entering my final billet. I will be taking over as the Electronics Technician Rating Force Master Chief. I didn't know I wanted the job. In fact, I thought I didn't want the job until just a few months ago. We had a meeting of the Senior Enlisted ETs down in Yorktown. We try to meet annually to discuss the ET Rating and what is happening in our world of work, share ideas and solve problems. Of course, since I was tour complete (my second full tour at HQ, although with a one year break to do a quick stint as CMC in New Orleans), one of my goals was to talk to the other Master Chiefs, especially the tour complete ones, to see where we all could go.

As we discussed the various jobs that were coming available, I learned a few things. One of the Master Chiefs had decided to retire and he said to me, "there just aren't any more jobs that I want to do". It struck a cord and I decided that there wasn't much more I felt I needed to do around here before it was time to pack it in too. As the current ET RFMC was talking about his job, it came to me that his job is really the only thing I wanted to do. The job has tremendous challenges and I was looking for a challenge. With 26 years of service on the near horizon, I needed something that would take me to 30, but be hard enough to keep me interested and active. I didn't want to go ROAD (Retired On Active Duty). I wanted to work.

So after going through the application process, I was selected. There was one major gap in my package. I am one of those Master Chiefs where the CPO Academy requirement revolved around my advancements. It was never essential for me to do my job... until now... I made a promise that if I was selected, I would complete the school before reporting aboard. This became a condition of my selection and I now prepare to attend the CPO Academy in the spring.

Attending the CPO Academy is one of the reasons I started this blog. I want to try and record an online diary of my experience there. I want to show all the trials and tribulations and hopefully achievements that go with the experience of attending the premier leadership school of the Coast Guard.

I am already well on my way in the preparations that go into attending the CPO Academy. I have completed a lot of the prerequisites and am ready to submit the paperwork required beforehand. I don't actually have orders yet, but am on a waiting list and am hoping for an opening to the one class that would be the best fit for me and my still busy schedule. I am also ramping up my workouts. Fitness has always been a part of me ever since we used to head to the gym after work in Cape May for some lifting and trash talking. I am just concentrating on my weak areas and getting more intense. I will very likely be the oldest guy there. I don't plan on being the last at the finish line.

Well, I'm going to close out this post as it appears rather long. I hope those of you who find me here, enjoy my rambling and also contribute your thoughts.

Some topics I have ideas for:
Why not Warrant?
My Fitness Routine
The Preparations for CPO Academy

I will see you down the road,
ETCM Joe Harold

Thursday, February 12, 2009


Hello and welcome.

My name is Joe Harold and I am a Coast Guard Electronics Technician Master Chief. I have been on active duty almost 26 years and will be taking on the duties of the Electronics Technician Rating Force Master Chief this summer.

I want to use this blog to follow along as I have my adventures as an RFMC and approach the magic 30 years of service when I reach the mandatory retirement point.

I hope you enjoy my ramblings and please feel free to comment on my posts, ask questions or whatever comes to mind.