Storyworth – Naval Air Station, Pensacola August 1985 – September 1985

Naval Air Station, Pensacola, Florida (courtesy

Lori and I arrived In Pensacola with the children so I could attend the Limited Duty Officer/Chief Warrant Officer (LDO/CWO) Academy. She and the children stayed with friends and family while I lived in the barracks assigned to course attendees. Later, they went to Corpus Christi to stay with her mother until I finished the course.

I admit to some pride in my new position and uniform, though some trepidation also. I was now an officer in the United States Navy and a leader of men.

It’s funny how my perspective changed with the uniform. For nearly nineteen years, eight as a Chief Petty Officer, I had led and molded my subordinates, yet rarely thought of it that way. How naïve I felt.

Through those years, I spouted the Chief as the backbone of the Navy. I believed it then and still did, yet I was now a Chief Warrant Officer. A former backbone of the Navy just moved higher on the technical leadership ladder.

A Navy warrant officer comes from a rating where they have reached the E-7 or higher level. The warrant has mastered his specialty and demonstrated leadership skills sufficient to be a Chief Petty Officer. Now, the Chief Petty Officer faces the LDO/CWO selection board.

The candidate seeking the commission applies to the LDO/Chief Warrant Officer board. The application follows a template that details a picture of the candidate’s Naval service. There are pictures in uniform and a history of duty assignments, education, and off-duty activities. The candidate can include a letter giving his reason for seeking the commission. The candidate provides the package to his chain of command, and their local commander can endorse it.

The selection board reviews the packages and forwards a qualified list of selectees to the Secretary of the Navy. The list moves through a process resulting in the selectee receiving a presidential commission.

The selection board suggests an order to commission the selectees as part of the process. I was in the last group commissioned by the 1984 board. Regardless, here I was in Pensacola and a Chief Warrant Officer 2.

Navy LDO-CWO Mustang Patch (courtesy

Break: I was now a Mustang. A Mustang officer is not a temporary or brevet promotion but is a commissioned officer that receives more pay according to their rank of O1-E, O2-E, etc., but (has) command responsibilities as all other commissioned officers. (

The Limited Duty Officer/Chief Warrant Officer (LDO/CWO) Academy is commonly called Knife and Fork School. Though social/military etiquette elements exist, they cram much more into four weeks.

I remember a module on the history of warrant and LDO programs. Then, one required each of us to give a short talk evaluated by the others. We marched and learned to direct a marching group. There was physical training, and one had to pass the PT test before graduating. We learned sword etiquette, though warrant officers were not required to buy one. And speaking of etiquette, we learned how to prepare a table for a wardroom dinner and set the seating arrangement. It was the knife and fork part of the course.

Lori and the children were with her mother in Corpus Christi while I learned the nuances of being a warrant officer. My school moved along quite well until Hurricane Elena interrupted it. My memory of that event was staying in the barrack stairwell while the storm raged. The next day, I learned that the storm had produced tornadoes that damaged several hangers. Fortunately, the barracks and school buildings were undamaged.

Finally, the day came to leave for my next duty station. I was to return to FT Meade after picking up Lori, DJ, and Tiffany en route to our place on Falconer Court, FT Meade, MD.

We returned to the home where we lived the last months of my enlisted career and would occupy to start my life as a commissioned officer.




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