CNATTU North Island Chief’s Mess celebrates a local legend’s life, legacy

16 November 2021

From Chief Aviation Ordnanceman Anthony W. Pranger

SAN DIEGO –The Center for Naval Aviation Technical Training Unit (CNATTU) North Island Chief’s Mess joined more than 3,000 chief petty officers (CPO) who came to network, mentor, and celebrate being and becoming a Navy CPO during the city’s CPO Pride Day event Nov. 5.
SAN DIEGO –The Center for Naval Aviation Technical Training Unit (CNATTU) North Island Chief’s Mess joined more than 3,000 chief petty officers (CPO) who came to network, mentor, and celebrate being and becoming a Navy CPO during the city’s CPO Pride Day event Nov. 5. 

This one of a kind event serves not only to promote heritage and tradition, but to help network and be reunited with shipmates past and display to the San Diego community the camaraderie of the U.S. Navy CPO network.

This year’s CPO Pride Day was a tribute to the late Chief Stuart Hedley, born Oct. 29, 1921, who died Aug. 4. Hedley was a Pearl Harbor survivor and Navy veteran who spent decades stoking the flames of remembrance about that pivotal moment in American history.  One hundred twenty four of his shipmates aboard the battle ship USS West Virginia (BB 58) died at the Pearl Harbor attack by the Japanese.  Hedley served 20 years of active duty service and 50 years to his San Diego community.  He was an active member of the San Diego Pearl Harbor Survivor Association, holding the office of president or vice president numerous times.  Over a 40-year span, Stuart spoke to public schools, civilian organizations and military commands, sharing his memories and teaching a history lesson of what lead up to the Pearl Harbor attacks.  By his count, he is said to have spoken to more than 200,000 people over the years.

“We the veterans of WWII set the precedence for you men and women who are serving our country today with Honor, Courage and Commitment, I am so proud of you,” Hedley was quoted as saying during a speaking engagement.  “The motto of the Pearl Harbor Survivor organization is “Remember Pearl Harbor, Keep America Alert.” I ask you; remember the 2,468 of my shipmates who paid the ultimate sacrifice on 7 December 1941.”

With Hedley’s passing, CNATTU North Island Chief’s Mess came together and wanted to find a way that they could pay tribute to the local legend.  The 2021 CPO Pride Day event would be the first one that Hedley wouldn’t be up on stage giving his famous motivational speech or giving words of wisdom to the thousands in attendance. 

Looking for a way to pay homage and keep his memory alive, CNATTU North Island Chief’s Mess designed and developed a Chief Stuart Hedley Tribute Coin that captured his heroic efforts and dedication to the Navy. With this tribute coin, Hedley will live on forever.
 
Five hundred serialized Hedley tribute coins were produced and the number one coin was presented to the Enlisted Leadership Foundation president during this year’s 2021 CPO Pride Day in Hedley’s honor.  The coin was also placed in the yearly pride day coin competition were it took first place over all other entries.  Hedley was a fixture at these events honoring active and military veterans and he never wanted what happened at Pearl Harbor to be forgotten, he was passionate about making sure the audience remembered the courage of those who were there that day.
 
For 99 years Navy Chief Stuart Hedley stood the watch. Today, the CNATTU North Island Chief’s Mess is here to say, “Shipmate…the watch stands relieved, relieved by those you have Trained, Guided, and Led; Shipmate you stand relieved…We have the watch.”
 
 
 
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