NEWS | Aug. 20, 2013

Great Plains Chief Petty Officer Association Makes its Mark at Paint-A-Thon

By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class (SW/AW) Byron C. Linder U.S. Strategic Command Public Affairs

OMAHA, Neb. - Chief petty officers (CPOs) assigned to U.S. Strategic Command (STRATCOM) led a team of volunteers to paint a veteran’s home Aug. 17 as part of the annual Brush Up Nebraska “Paint-A-Thon” community service event.

Paint-A-Thon, celebrating its 25th anniversary this year, is designed to help low-income elderly and permanently disabled homeowners by painting the exterior of their home. The Great Plains Chief Petty Officer Association paint team consisted of STRATCOM CPOs and CPO selectees, Offutt Security Force CPOs, Navy Operational Support Center Reserve CPOs, and retired CPOs.

Prior to the paint day, a small contingent of CPOs visited the home to conduct prep work. The split level house’s sky blue paint had faded and flaked off in random patches, exposing the wood underneath. Over the course of five hours under cloudy skies, the CPOs cleared branches pressing against the walls, power-washed the exterior and applied primer and caulk to the house’s affected areas.

The following day, with the sun shining bright, more than 15 CPOs worked to transform the house’s exterior. The CPOs worked in teams on different areas, first putting a fresh coat of sky blue paint on the trim areas of the house. Then, using tools ranging from small paintbrushes to paint rollers to a hose-fed paint sprayer, the chiefs painted a layer of bright white over the walls.

Chief Yeoman (SW/AW) Stephen Beeman, CPO 365 Phase II community relations coordinator, noted although the project was geared toward CPO selectees, geographical demographics presented a challenge.

“We don’t have a lot of enlisted Navy here, and so the number of selectees is a lot lower than your average Navy fleet-concentrated area,” he explained. “With only two (selectees) here, and a project this big, it takes the whole mess to get it done. And the entire mess participating is pretty standard.”

Beeman stated one of the main goals was to impart practical knowledge the CPO selectees will have to employ in the fleet.

“I want them to see the coordination that took place. They were intentionally given a lot of tasking so they could prioritize. In something like this, this is someone’s home. It means a lot to the person, the intent was to prioritize what needed to be done, and they did that,” he said. “I think this is what (Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy Michael D. Stevens) MCPON would want to see. He’d want to see us out here helping the community, he’d want to see a strong Navy presence.”

Chief Intelligence Specialist (select) (IDW/SW/AW)  Jonathan Bagley, a Hickory, N.C. native and STRATCOM imagery analyst, noted a key takeaway was seeing how the Chiefs Mess came together to achieve a common goal.

“I was actually pretty excited, and it’s nice to help out a fellow Sailor,” he said. “The whole experience has been pretty memorable, and it’s great to see the Navy will take care of Navy even after our service is over. This whole thing is about becoming part of the Chiefs Mess, and seeing everyone work together was pretty inspiring.”

At the work’s conclusion, with the late afternoon sun casting long shadows over the volunteers, homeowner Lynette McCowen expressed her gratitude. McCowen was a Navy Reserve yeoman from 1987 to 1994 and signed up for her home to be painted through her church.

“I’m so excited to see the Navy again. I never thought I’d get picked. It feels like a miracle. I never forgot the Navy and my shipmates, and I have a special love for them,” she said. “I feel so humbled by this whole situation, it feels like a blessing. It’s something I can never repay.”