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Home Town Orr
Last Address Winter Park, Florida
Date of Passing Mar 05, 2000
Location of Interment Arlington National Cemetery - Arlington, Virginia
Wall/Plot Coordinates Section 11, Site 496 LH
Last Known Activity Upon retirement from active duty, Master Chief Black continued his involvement with the Navy through retired and active duty organizations. He was an active member of the USO Council of Central Florida; the Fleet Reserve Association; and Co-Chairman on the Secretary of Navy Committee on Retired Personnel. He died at his home in Winter Park, Florida at the age of 77. He is buried in Arlington National Cemetery, Section 11, Site 496 LH. Navy's First Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy, MCPON Del Black, passes away US Navy Press Releases Retired Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy (MCPON) Del Black died Sunday, March 5, at his home in Winter Park, Fla., from a heart attack. He was 77. A true pioneer, Black became the first Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy Jan. 13, 1967. The position was then referred to as the Navy's Senior Enlisted Advisor prior to evolving into the current title the Navy knows today. Black was born in Orr, Okla., and grew up a self- proclaimed "Oklahoma farm boy," before joining the Navy in March 1941. He served on board nine warships for a total of 21 years of sea duty throughout his 30-year career. This included serving aboard USS Maryland (BB 46) in Pearl Harbor on the day of the attack. During his service in the Pacific, he saw his ship torpedoed several times and attacked by kamikaze planes. "I was definitely haze gray and underway most of my time in the Navy, and I loved it," Black said recently. "Sea duty was one of the most enjoyable aspects of being in the Navy to me. That's where you relied on your shipmates, as you fought, and worked side by side. That's what the Navy is all about," he explained. Black's tour as MCPON covered the challenging times and issues of the Vietnam Conflict. Black quickly won support of Navy leadership for his newly established office. He was responsible for initiating the Command Master Chief program throughout the Navy to ensure proper enlisted leadership and representation. "Not only our enlisted force, but our entire Navy owes MCPON Del Black a great debt of gratitude," said current MCPON, MMCM(SS/SW/AW) Jim Herdt. "Americans lost a great military leader, and Sailors lost the best shipmate they could ever hope for," he added. Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jay L. Johnson said, "I am deeply saddened by the passing of Master Chief Petty Officer Del Black, our Navy's first MCPON. Master Chief Black was a great leader who was tireless in his pursuit of improving the lives of our Sailors and their families. We are forever grateful for his service to our Nation. He is sorely missed by those of us who were privileged to call him our friend." Black remained active with the Navy even after his retirement in 1971. He stayed very involved with the Fleet Reserve Association and USO. In a recent interview he spoke of his close ties with the Navy. "The Navy is and always will be a part of my family. I never consider myself retired from the Navy, just less active. Anything I can do to help Sailors, it is my privilege to do, and I always will." That was obvious in his frequent travels around the world visiting with Sailors. Last December, he celebrated his 50-year wedding anniversary with his wife Ima in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, where his career began. Herdt knows Black as nothing short of a hero. "Del Black was the John Paul Jones of the enlisted force. He was the warrior, leader, gentleman, and mentor that began the long march that brought the enlisted force from the era of rocks and shoals to the elite, professional and responsible force we are today. His contributions to our Navy will be talked about far into the future, and written about for all time to come," Herdt proclaimed. "MCPON Black was an icon for our Navy and, to all of us fortunate to know him personally, he was our hero," Herdt added. Black's first eight years in the Navy were aboard ships in the Pacific. His first shore assignment, a 14-month shore tour in Washington, D.C., was where he met his wife, Ima, then it was back to sea for seven more years. Black was the first Navy enlisted man to be awarded the Distinguished Service Medal. Black is survived by his wife Ima, in Winter Park, Fla., son Don and two grandsons in Bluntsville, Ala. There will be memorial services in both Orlando, Fla., and Washington, D.C., with his burial in Arlington National Cemetery at 1 p.m. Friday, Mar. 10.
Other Comments: On 13 January 1967, the Secretary of the Navy announced that Master Chief Gunner's Mate (GMCM) Black was appointed as the first Senior Enlisted Advisor, the position that would evolve into Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy. As such, he was the highest ranking enlisted man in the U.S. Navy, serving as the enlisted representative to the Chief of Naval Operations. He counseled the highest Navy brass on problems associated with enlisted guidance, leadership, and policy. Master Chief Black was the first Navy enlisted man to receive the Distinguished Service Medal. He also held the Navy Unit Commendation, Navy Good Conduct Medal (7 stars), American Defense (1 star), American Campaign, Asiatic Pacific (8 stars), World War II Victory, China Service, Navy Occupation, National Defense Service Medal (1 star), Korean Service, Vietnam Service (3 stars), Antarctica Service, United Nations Service Medal, Philippine Liberation (2 stars), Philippine PUC, Vietnam Campaign with device, and Republic of Vietnam Armed Forces Meritorious Unit Citation (Gallantry Cross). http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Delbert_Black (MAR 2007) In his farewell message prior to leaving office, Black wrote: The office of the MCPON is at a point now, and it has been for some time, where cooperation with various branches and offices here in the Bureau is at its best. What has been accomplished is a good example of the importance of teamwork and working through people for people. It appears to me that the time to stay Navy has never been better. I can tell you about many career Navymen about to retire, who are wishing they could stay on longer. I am one of that group. But there comes a time when every Navyman must take his leave of active duty. It just seems that NOW is such a tempting time to linger on a bit longer. During his retirement and change of office ceremonies held at the Washington Navy Yard, Secretary of the Navy John H. Chafee, Admiral Zumwalt and Vice Admiral Dick H. Guinn made remarks. The CNO presented Black with the Distinguished Service Medal. MCPON Black and Ima retired in Winter Park, Florida. Active in the Fleet Reserve Association and a member of the USO board of directors, he was able to be available to help sailors with their problems. Ima is also an active member of the FRA Auxiliary, the Navy Wives Club and the CPO Wives Club. http://www.quarterdeck.org/WindsOfChange/012-29%20MCPON%20Black.htm Copyright � 1999-2006 San Diego Navy Historical Association, Inc.(MAR2007) http://wrc.navair-rdte.navy.mil/warfighter_enc/History/bios/black.htm