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Who was the youngest Navy Chief Petty Officer?

ANSWER: Diego Enrique Santiago, age 6, was pinned an honorary Chief Petty Officer at the USO in Jacksonville, North Carolina in March 2006.

He was a cancer patient and his wish was to be a Navy Chief just like his father, HMC Jesus Santiago. The son of Chief Hospital Corpsman (FMF/AW) Jesus “Chico” Santiago, his fondest dream was to be just like his dad – to follow his father footsteps into the naval ranks, and someday, hopefully, earn the respected title of “Chief.”

But Diego grew ill – very ill – and his dream looked increasingly like an impossibility.

Chief Jesus Santiago’s brothers and sisters in the CPO mess heard of Diego’s illness, and did something, they made Diego an honorary Chief Petty Officer, initiated him into the mess.

The pinning ceremony was approved by the Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy himself.

He was 6 years old when he got pinned.

He was very pleased, and his pleasure made all of us in the Chief Community throughout the Navy, very proud, even those who did not know him.

Proud to be part of an organization which could make such an impression upon such a young man. Proud to be a part of an organization that could have such leaders and fathers that a young man would want to emulate.

Diego passed away.

Diego was originally only given a few weeks to live when initially diagnosed with cancer but he fought a hard fight for 14 months, but his little body couldn’t hold out any longer.

Our Youngest Chief transferred to the Supreme Commander for his final duty station on 2 August 2006..




  1. Brandi says:

    I thank you so much for taking interest in this amazing little man. Your post is one of the most accurate I’ve come across. I’m so grateful he’s still remembered. – His big sister, Brandi


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