Admiral Halsey on Chief Petty Officers
The following is a true story told to ATCS(AC) Jack Reese USN Retired by his uncle, John Reese, a journalist and novelist who wrote 34 books, mostly westerns. If you ever saw the movie “Charlie Varrick”, with Walter Mathau, this was from his book, “The Looters”.
AT the end of World War II, all the towns and cities across the country were looking for a “Home town boy makes good” person to celebrate the victory with. Los Angeles chose Admiral Halsey, whom it was rumored had done quite well. The ceremony was held on the steps of the LA county courthouse, and at the end of it when Halsey was leaving, they had a line of sideboys. They were active duty and retired Chief Petty Officers that had been brought in from all over the country. As he walked through the ranks, my uncle walked apace on the outside. As Halsey approached one old CPO that my uncle described as being older than God, my uncle saw them wink at each other. Later, at a cocktail party, my uncle had the opportunity to have a chat with the great Admiral. He commented on the wink between Halsey and this old Chief and asked Halsey if he would mind explaining it. Halsey looked at me uncle very seriously and said this: ” That man was my Chief when I was an Ensign, and no one before or after taught me as much about ships or men as he did. You civilians don’t understand. You go down to Long Beach, and you see those battleships sitting there, and you think that they float on the water, don’t you? My uncle replied, “Yes sir, I guess they do”. You are wrong, replied Halsey; they are carried to sea on the backs of those Chief Petty Officers!
ATCS(AC) Jack Reese USN Retired says “For all of my uncles fame and money, he thought I had the best job and position in the world. I think he was right!!”