U.S. Pacific Fleet Master Chief John Minyard, foreground; Commander Task Force 73, COMLOG WESTPAC Command Master Chief Robert Shannon; and Chaplain Lt. James Ragain III, salute during the national anthem at the USS Missouri CPO Legacy Academy Class 006 graduation, Aug. 24. (U.S. Navy Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class David Kolmel)

PEARL HARBOR - Forty-three chief petty officer (CPO) selectees from around the Pacific Fleet graduated from the USS Missouri CPO Legacy Academy in a ceremony held aboard the Battleship Missouri Memorial Aug. 24.

The graduation ceremony marked the end of five days aboard Missouri for the lucky group of selectees chosen to participate in this year's legacy academy. Class 006 boarded Missouri Aug. 19 and spent an entire week living, working and training aboard the ship along with a group of chief petty officer mentors who provided leadership and lessons on Navy history and the heritage of the CPO community.

"When they stay aboard (Missouri) we remove all the other outside distractions from the CPO Induction process and we wind up with a core heritage event onboard the ship that culminated with a reenactment of the surrender of the Japanese aboard Missouri at the end of WWII" said Master Chief Fire Controlman Jason Dunn, this year's Legacy Academy coordinator.

Throughout the week Class 006 participated in tours to the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, historical civil defense battery sites at Diamond Head, the USS Bowfin Submarine Museum, the USS Arizona Memorial, and the Pacific Aviation Museum on Ford Island in addition to behind the scenes tours of the USS Missouri.

"You have to know where you came from to know where you are going. Chiefs are keepers of history and tradition and living it here makes it easier to go back and instruct junior Sailors and junior officers what it means to be a Sailor in today's Navy," said Chief (select) Yeoman Glice Planas of Mobile Underwater Diving and Salvage Unit 1.

From its humble but ambitious beginning in 2007 the legacy academy has expanded from 22 selectees in Class 001 to an anticipated 95 graduates this year thanks to the addition of a second Legacy Academy Class. On Aug. 26-31, Class 007 consisting of 52 selectees will create their own legacy aboard USS Missouri.

"It was too great of an opportunity to limit it to just one class. Normally our maximum capacity is 60 Sailors but by opening it up to two classes we can really hold up to 120," said Dunn.

While on board, the selectees participated in battle drills which included scenarios on casualty care, weapons and ammo handling as well as the World War II reenactment ceremony. All of these activities helped emphasize the importance of coming together as a team to accomplish missions or tasks.

"(The team building exercises) really showed us that you can come together as a good and effective team very quickly, we were getting together that first night and our groups were performing well," Chief Boatswain's Mate (select) Todd Welsh, from Military Sealift Command Far East in Singapore.

Participants also conduct service projects aboard to help with the preservation of the ship helping to ensure that "Mighty Mo" is around for future generations to experience the history and heritage of the Navy and the Pacific Fleet.

The guest speaker, U.S. Pacific Fleet Master Chief John Minyard, explained how the course provides the CPO selectees a better sense of knowledge about Navy heritage and builds the camaraderie that will help them lead their Sailors and continue the Navy's mission throughout their career.

"Remember the lessons you have learned this week and the trust that has been placed in you," said Minyard in his address to the selectees. "Remember the chiefs who came before you, who walked the decks of Missouri, Arizona and Bowfin, and paved the way for all Sailors through their successes and their failures."

See more photos in the USS Missouri CPO Legacy Academy Flickr set.